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Any bike messengers on the board?(20 posts)

Any bike messengers on the board?DASS
Apr 23, 2003 10:27 PM
Just wondering. Bike Messengers seems to appreciate fixed gear bikes. Any comments on why?
re: Any bike messengers on the board?ukiahb
Apr 24, 2003 9:19 AM
I'm a former messenger, rode in S.F. in the mid '70's...FWIW way back then it was all company issued single speed, Schwinn Heavy-Duti's and we didn't lock them and they were rarely stolen. Just got into FG this year, but love it and have been riding mine a lot, especially in the rain. Personally I like the low maintenance/simplicity/high reliability aspect, and am also am comfortable leaving it outside stores briefly, etc...I figure it wouldn't appeal to thieves, and even if one rode off on it they would probably be freaked out by the fixed gear and would quickly drop it.
re: Any bike messengers on the board?peter1
Apr 25, 2003 7:25 PM
I'm not one, but from my observations it's part fashion, part function. The function being obvious, especially in a flat city like Philadelphia or New York. The fashion part is kind of hard to grasp but I think it's the DIY ethic of early punk rock music, i.e. all you need is a cheap guitar and drum kit and you've got a band. You can cobble together a SS for $100 or less.

On a side note, it's long been my suspicion that a number of messengers ride stolen frames, or frames that they know to have been stolen...that have been wrapped in electrical tape and stripped of any valuable parts...just my hunch. I'd love for a messenger to prove me wrong.
Bike messenger does not=thiefDjudd
Apr 26, 2003 12:42 PM
I was a bike messenger from the mid-eighties to about 1990. Fed my family and got through grad school on that job and loved it. I worked in NYC and then DC. Fixies are easy to maintain and as a messenger you are in a constant sprint all day, all you need is one properly picked gear.
AS to the stolen bike thing. There were some messengers who rode stolen bikes when I was on the street. However, most couriers respect their business and their machines too much to involve themselves in making thier living on a stolen bike. The wrapped tubes are not to hide a stolen bike but to protect the tubes. In a long day messengers lock thier bikes up in all angles to make drops. Wrapping your tubes prevents a lot of paint chipping. I don't know how to prove you wrong since you seem to have a pre-conceived "hunch?"
Bike messenger does not=thiefGeko
Apr 26, 2003 9:59 PM
Another reason messengers wrap their frames up is to cover the logos on the tubes. If a theif sees a nice campy logo or a bianchi pasted on a bike in big letters, he'll be attracted to steal that one since it might be worth more.

Fixies are very reliable and easy to maintain, I think this is the main reason for a messenger to use them. If time = money in your job, then having any sort of chain break, cable snapping, and billions of other drivetrain problems, you're going to end up paying more than you have and burning time.

although I'm not a messenger so I could be totally wrong.
Some messengers may try to hide their logos...timfire
Apr 26, 2003 10:57 PM
Some messengers may wrap their frames to hide the logos, but if they cared that much about theft they wouldn't free-lock their bikes, and they certainly wouldn't leave their bikes standing unlocked.

I think the only real reason a messenger would wrap their frame would be to protect it from getting scratched. Trying to hide the logos sounds more like a commuter tactic than a messenger tactic.

Messengers not theiveshackmechanic
Apr 27, 2003 8:06 AM
As someone who was a messenger for five years and who still works with messengers daily at my shop I can say with certainty that messengers generally aren't theives nor would the wish the bad karma upon themselves by riding something stolen. Almost every courier has had a bike stolen, stripped, or know someone who this has happened to and would never consider being a part of the problem. In fact, there are stories told about couriers finding a guy in mid-bike-theft and excersising justice on the scum. Sometimes they beat the crap out of them but my favourite is when some guys u-locked a bike theif by the neck to a sign post until the cops showed up.

Tape protects paint, hides the logos on frames. If you're riding every day, 8 hours a day, you don't necessarily want to ride junk so good/strong frames are bought and then camouflaged to make them less easy to spot.
The whole fixie/messenger thing is overblown...timfire
Apr 26, 2003 10:39 PM
The fixie/messenger conection is a overblown stereo-type. Here in Chicago, I would guess that at most.. maybe 10% of messengers ride fixies. By far the most common bikes used are cheap mountain bikes, followed by cheap 10-speeds, normal roadbikes, and then fixies tied with by SS's. Also, very few veterans (6+ years) ride fixies. They're out there, but there aren't many.

The stereo-type is that all messengers are cycling speed freaks, but in reality most - or at a least a sizable percentage - are what I call the "working class" messengers. Guys who I would hesitate to call "cyclists," guys who are rather slow and mess' because it's their job, not because they love cycling.

Maybe things are different in other cities, but that's the way it seems to be in Chicago.

Sorry for that rant. With all that said, I think the messengers who ride fixies ride them for the same reasons anyone else would: because they like to feel "connected" to the bike, and they like the simplicity/low-maintenance/reliability of fixed gears (though they may appreciate the low-maintenance factor more than the average joe).

The whole fixie/messenger thing is overblown...Spiderman
Apr 28, 2003 8:13 AM
I have a question. I live in nyc and love bikes (thats why we are on the forum right?) and had thought many a time about giving up my corporate monkey job for being a messengar. The only thing is, how much does a typical messenger make? either hourly or yearly. I would much rather ride my bike in the crappiest conditions than work in front of my computer screen. Please help me make up my mind. thanks.
re: messenger thingukiahb
Apr 28, 2003 10:19 AM
I don't know what it pays these days but the commissions were pretty good if you hustled and it was the best job I've ever had. However it is REALLY dangerous, two messengers were killed and many injured during the time I was riding in S.F, though this was in pre-helmet days....
I also remember that many new hires quit after a day or two, but it sounds like you know what you are getting into...I'd say go for it...
re: messenger thingSpiderman
Apr 28, 2003 11:05 AM
Thank you for the encouragement...It may be what i need. I have a pretty steady job here, i don't know if i want to blow it only to find out I actually don't like messanging. Do you mind if i ask how much you made "back then?"
re: messenger thingSpiderman
Apr 28, 2003 12:45 PM
Thank you for the encouragement...It may be what i need. I have a pretty steady job here, i don't know if i want to blow it only to find out I actually don't like messanging. Do you mind if i ask how much you made "back then?"
don't remember pay rate, it was a loooong time ago...(nm)ukiahb
Apr 28, 2003 7:18 PM
NYC messenger ratesbuffalosorrow
Apr 28, 2003 12:43 PM
I work with the ill-fated for a while(no, I dont have the emormus bag).
Although they paid hourly I also accepted tips and received commission, back then 4-5 years I was happy to pull $10-12/ hr plus tips say $1/ delivery and high run bonus@ $30. I tried to set may standard to make doulbe base pay, and worked out on average around $160 a night shift.
Funny thing is that I recently left my job, and am considering couriering once again.

Also let it be said, dont think you'll ever receive a tip in any other messenger job.

Regarding 'messengers=theives'

There are messengers and there are theives, there are also messenger theives as there are doctor, police and teachers theives, as there are honest doctors, policemen and policewomen and teachers.
NYC messenger ratesSpiderman
Apr 28, 2003 12:52 PM
what sort of hours were you working for your night shift? I don't mean to sound nosey, its just that i htink the more info i had, the easier it would be to make up my mind. do you mind emailing me at thanks.
what's ironic about your questions....Djudd
Apr 28, 2003 7:45 PM
when I was on the street in DC there was a well-known courier named Spiderman...everyone knew him...any veteran DC riders will remember him
what's ironic about your questions....Spiderman
Apr 29, 2003 6:29 AM
thats funny, definately not me. I've never lived in DC, at least THIS alter ego hasn't.
Average Chicago rate is $3 take-home per delivery...timfire
May 1, 2003 5:06 PM
The majority of companies here in Chicago pay commission. The standard is that the messenger takes 50% of what the company charges. A few places do pay an hourly wage. Those places usually pay around $8-$12/hr, depending on seniority. For a messenger who doesn't like hustling (that would be most "working-class" mess'ers) an hourly wage ain't too bad a deal. But those who are willing and capable of running for their money can usually make more money on commission.

I would guess that the average messenger does between 30-40 runs a day, averaging about $100 a day, or around $25,000 a year. Not too bad if you don't have many bills to pay, but definitely not anything you're going to rich off of. How does that compare to the "average" pro-racer?

Don't fall for the Quicksilver imagetimmmmmmmy
May 3, 2003 5:01 AM
Don't think it will be like the movie. You probably won't get rich or land the girl... But then again you just might... Remember, though, you don't make squat if you ain't working (sick, hurt, time off, etc.). You also won't have health insurance. If either of these things matter to you, think hard about your choice.

You say you wouldn't mind riding in any conditions. Do you get up at 5am every day to train right now? Do you go out in rain, snow, wind? Have you even talked to any couriers on the street? Have you talked to any of the courier companies? I am sure they would tell you their rates.

Best deliveries go to select couriers. Are you willing to pay your dues to get to that point? My guess is that you have a romantic idea of couriering. You are probably in your mid-20s or so, and your life ain't what you imagined back in college. You are considering: (i) going back to school, (ii) becoming a bike courier, or (iii) leaving NYC for anywhere else.

Well, you are at a crossroads in your life. Being a courier can be a blast... best of times, worst of times. But since this board is all about opinions, I will throw in my $0.02... Try to figure out what you want your life to look like in 5 years... or even 3 years. Are you doing the right things now to get to that point? If yes, stay the course. If not, then a change is probably necessary. Sometimes you might not like what you are doing, but it leads to something bigger and better. If so, maybe you can stick with it. If not... well, you get the picture.

Good luck.
Bike Messenger championships in SF?DASS
Apr 29, 2003 8:45 PM
A couple years ago I heard about some kind of bike messenger championship in SF. Messengers from around the country came to compete. Maybe it was a crit in the city? I remember hearing that some guys rode their fixies all the way from Chicago.

It seems like there's all kinds of messenger stories to hear...wish someone would tell em.