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Is Delivering by e-Bike a Good Way to Make Money? (Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub)

With gas prices rising, you may be wondering if using an electric bike to deliver for Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and others is better than car delivery.

Can you make as much on an e-bike as you can using your car? Are the costs really that much lower? Is it worth the investment? Is using an e-Bike that much different than a traditional bicycle?

We'll talk about using an electric bike for the different food delivery platforms. We'll look at how it works, things you need to think about and then wrap up with my personal experiences delivering with a converted e-bike.

A delivery courier rides through a metropolitan area on his electric bike with a backpack while delivering for a food delivery service like Doordash or Uber Eats.

In this article we'll look at:

How e-bike delivery works

Instead of using a car to get you to the local restaurants and to take deliveries to the customers, you do so on an electric bike.

Obviously you can't set the food or packages on your passenger seat or trunk (unless somehow you have such a thing), however you can use a backpack or storage on the bike (such as a rack mounted delivery bag).

Electric bike delivery is very similar to using a standard bike to deliver, with the major difference being that an e-bike has a battery and motor to assist in pedaling.

While many e-bikes do have a throttle, typically you still pedal an e-bike like you do a traditional bike. Most electric bikes use a form of pedal assist, where the bike recognizes when you are pedaling, and the motor will assist in propelling the bike.

Depending on how much assistance you require (by setting the power level) the pedal assist function can either help you to ride much more quickly, or kick in to assist with uphill pedaling. This often means you can deliver for several hours without as much physical exertion as using a standard bike.

How much can you earn delivering on an e-bike?

The amount you can earn depends a lot on how busy your market is, how quickly you can get around town, and whether your delivery area has a lot of opportunities for shorter quicker deliveries that can be completed on a bike or e-bike.

On episode 84 of the Deliver on Your Business podcast, we talked with Kevin Ha who operates the Financial Panther website. He does most if not all his delivery work now on an e-Bike. In that interview he mentioned he's been earning upwards of $40 per hour.

In 2021, delivering in the Denver area, I averaged $29.34 per hour using my e-bike, combining deliveries for Doordash and Uber Eats. However, that amount does not take into account the time I had to either ride or drive to an appropriate delivery area.

These are just examples. I'm sure there are many who could have made more simply because they're faster than I am on their bikes. In some areas, if the delivery companies are slower or it's harder to find shorter deliveries appropriate for bike delivery, the average amounts can be lower.

In more congested areas where it's hard to find parking or where traffic can be slowed down, using an e-bike can get you in and out of pickup and drop-off locations much more quickly. However, deliveries in suburban areas with longer rides may take longer.

Finally, order size can make a big difference. Many food delivery companies will limit order size for bike delivery. Larger orders may not come your way as often, which can lower the average customer tips that you might receive.

An electric cargo bike loaded up with flowers for delivery.

Where can you deliver with an electric bike?

Uber Eats, Doordash, and Grubhub all state that bike or e-bike delivery is available in certain areas. Generally it needs to be an urban area where delivery distances are shorter. Often they will restrict bike delivery to central parts of town.

In Denver, Grubhub doesn't offer bike delivery as an option. Doordash usually only lets me use e-Bike mode in the two most central areas of town, only rarely can I go available in the outer zones. Uber Eats lets me go available anywhere in town, but the offers come far more frequently when I'm downtown or mid-town Denver than if I'm in the suburbs.

Pros and cons of e-bike delivery

As I write further down about my first experiences with electric bike delivery, using my converted e-Bike was a game changer compared to delivering when I'm doing all the pedaling myself. I could get around more quickly and I could deliver for longer periods of time without wearing out.

Here are some of the pro's and cons that I experienced with e-bike delivery.

The best things about using an electric bike to deliver for Doordash and Uber Eats

Here they are in a nutshell:

  • No gas. It's far cheaper
  • Parking is no longer a challenge
  • Easier and faster to get around in congested traffic areas
  • Doordash doesn't limit availability in my area in e-bike mode
  • I get paid to ride around and exercise

It costs far less to use my e-bike than my car. Gas is a non-issue. The bike itself costs far less and doesn't depreciate as badly as a car. Repair and maintenance costs are far lower as well.

When I'm driving my car downtown, I often have to park a bit away and then walk into the restaurant. In residential areas in the central part of town, it's really hard to find parking. With my e-bike I can get right up to the door before I have to get off my bike.

Denver is really good about having put in a lot of bike lanes downtown. Riding through central areas where there's a lot of stopping and starting, I can keep up with car traffic pretty well. Between this and the bike trail network, I can often get around far more quickly on my e-bike than in my car.

If you deliver for Doordash, you know that delivery zones are often unavailable unless you are Top Dasher. I don't know if this is true everywhere, but where I am, I can dash anytime in the central zones when I'm using my bike.

Finally, I just love to ride. It's pretty awesome to get paid doing so.

The biggest cons to e-bike delivery.

Once again, in a nutshell:

  • Taking care of the food is more challenging.
  • Weather can be a bigger issue
  • I can't deliver immediately from home very often.
  • Breakdowns happen more frequently
  • I worry about bike theft
  • Battery management is tricky

Sometimes keeping the food in a backpack isn't the best option. I haven't seen as many good options for bike rack mounted delivery bags. Finding a way to transport drinks (and keep them cold in the summer) is tricky.

Extremely hot weather, cold, snow, and rain can hamper deliveries when on a bike

The best place for delivery on bike is several miles from where I live. That requires I either ride in before delivering, or I have to transport my bike downtown. E-bikes are heavy, and that can make it challenging.

Flat tires happen more often on a bike. One time I was on a roll when my chain snapped (something that can happen more frequently thanks to the torque from the motor). I get slowed down by equipment issues on bike more than I do on a car.

One advantage to using a car is you can just shut it off and hope out. Bike theft is a big issue in my area, so I feel like I lose a lot of time locking and unlocking my bike at restaurants and at customer locations.

Finally, there's often a limit how far you can get on a bike. Electric bikes typically have a forty to seventy mile range. If I'm riding my bike in before deliveries, that shortens the amount of time I can deliver, unless I carry a spare battery. Batteries last longer on lower power settings, however that usually means I'm riding more slowly.

How to decide on a good delivery electric bike

A doordash delivery driver on an e-bike with a load of pizzas on the back rack, with the bike equipped with rockets to illustrate quick delivery.

In the end, it really depends on what a good fit for you is.

Fit and comfort can be a huge issue on bikes. A lot of e-bikes out there are one size fits all, which means if you're shorter or taller than the normal rider, you may have a harder time staying comfortable. Bikes designed for shorter trips are often not as comfortable to use for several hours. All of these things come into play.

I had put a lot into getting a good fit on my Surly touring bike. That's why I decided in the end to do an e-bike conversion on it rather than start from scratch.

The thing to do is start with your own comfort levels. Do you already have a bike that is comfortable? Is it something you would consider converting (and is it a good candidate for conversion?)

There are a lot of rental options with e-Bikes. You can try some of the bike share options to get a feel for what works for you. You can also do a one day or half day e-bike rental at a lot of bike shops. This is a great way to get a feel for what works for you.

Try a lot of bikes. Think about things like how you'll carry the food. Get something that has one or two good sized racks. If I were to buy a new bike today, I'd probably get something with a step-through frame. Is there a good quick locking mechanism or anti-theft measures?

If there's some way to try something for awhile such as a short term rental, that's a great way to find out first if it's a good fit for you, and second if you like delivering by e-bike enough to make an investment.

Frequently asked questions about delivering with an electric bike

Is it cheating to use an e-bike for deliveries?

No. While some cyclists feel like using a motor on a bike is cheating, you have to remember that the goal here is to complete deliveries. The electric assist on an e-bike can allow you to deliver more quickly and for a longer time, making it a good tool.

Are e-bikes a good option for delivery work?

An e-bike for delivery can be a fantastic idea. It can also not work so well. It all depends on how you do things and where you are. In busier areas where weather is good, car traffic is slow and parking is impossible to find, an e-bike can be a much better alternative. In many suburban and rural areas where you have longer trips, an e-bike may not be as good an option.

Can I deliver for Doordash on an e-bike?

Yes. In many urban markets, Doordash offers the option to choose an e-Bike as a delivery mode. They will usually offer shorter and sometimes smaller deliveries for e-bike delivery. In areas that don't have a bike mode, using an e-bike for Doordash may be more of a grey area. Doordash can not legally control the manner of how you perform your deliveries, however they can expect that deliveries be completed in a timely manner.

Does Uber Eats allow e-bike delivery?

You can create a separate account for bike delivery in markets that allow use of bicycles or e-bikes. They do require you to use the mode of transportation that is linked to your account, so e-bikes can not be used on a normal Uber Eats driver account. Because of limitations in their system where you can't toggle back and forth, and because of how insurance works, you do have to have a different account for bike deliveries.

Can I use an electric bike for Grubhub?

Grubhub states that bike deliveries are only supported in certain areas such as larger cities (New York City, San Francisco, etc). This does not mean that bike deliveries are not allowed in other areas, but that Grubhub is unable to filter delivery orders that are more appropriate for bike deliveries. My observation is that Grubhub offers more long distance deliveries than others, and in my area offers that are fitting for a bike are few and far between.

Can you use an electric bike for shopping apps like Instacart or Shipt?

While maybe not forbidden by Instacart or Shipt, grocery and shopping deliveries may be harder to accomplish on an e-bike due to storage and transpartation concerns. Smaller orders may not be a problem. If you have substantial storages, such as using a cargo bike or trailer, it may work well.

Can I use an electric bike for shop and deliver orders on Doordash or Uber Eats?

If you have an Uber Eats bike account or are in e-Bike mode on Doordash, orders may be filtered in such a way that you won't receive the larger shop and deliver trips. Smaller items may not be an issue. Much like grocery orders, the issue is with storage and transporting the deliveries. If you can safely transport items and you're not slowed down significantly by using an electrically assisted bicycle, you may be find for such orders.

Is a cargo e-bike the best option?

There are pros and cons to using a cargo version of an e-bike. The bikes are generally much more costly, and due to their weight may have a lower range. However, they give you more flexibility with what kind of orders you can transport. A cargo bike may allow you to more securely store the food and let you transport larger orders. It may not be as versatile in some traffic situations.

Can you use a trailer for delivery on an e-bike?

Many e-bikes have trailer options or the ability to add a trailer. This can be a good alternative to using a larger cargo bike. However, if the trailer is light it can have more bounce when you hit bumps. The added length can make maneuverability more challenging.

What is the best e-bike for delivery?

The best electric bike is the bike that you are most likely to enjoy riding, that you can ride comfortably, and that you can use well to be profitable. Every rider is different, which means that the best bike for one is not going to be the best for others. Most “best e-bikes” lists are influenced more by the commission that the writer receives than by what's actually good for the reader.

Do I need insurance for e-bike deliveries?

Generally, no. However, different states may have different requirements. There are different classes of e-bikes and manufacturers often have limits on things like maximum speeds. Depending on your state, you may be required to get a license and insurance for larger or more powerful electric bikes.

How long can you deliver on an electric bike?

This depends a lot on which orders you accept, how large the battery is, and how much you rely on the motor when riding. Ranges vary based on battery size, with typical ranges being anywhere between 25 and 80 miles. If you use a higher power setting and get more motor assist, you won't get as far as if just using the lowest power levels.

Is an e-bike more likely to be stolen when on deliveries?

Theft can be a concern when using an e-bike for deliveries. Many deliveries require waiting in the restaurant for the food to be finished, or wandering through large apartments to get to get the food to the customer. Some locking mechanisms on e-bikes might lock the wheel but won't prevent someone from picking it up and putting it in the back of a truck. One needs to consider the best way of locking up their bike when using a bike for deliveries.

How much does it cost to charge an e-bike?

A typical cost per mile on an e-bike is less than $0.005 (a half penny), based on about 60 miles per Kilowatt Hour at 15 cents (the US average cost according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). That amount can range based on bike and rider weight, battery, efficiency, and other conditions. Compare that to a car that gets 25 miles per gallon at $5 per gallon costing 20 cents per mile.

Is e-bike delivery the same as motorcycle or electric motorcycle delivery?

There are a number of similarities using an e-bike as there are with a motorcycle or an electric motorcycle. Some of the same limitations for storage, etc apply. An e-bike often doesn't have the same licensing and insurance requirements as a motorcycle. A motorcycle may not have the same speed limitations but may be more limited in traffic. Delivery companies may be less restrictive of using motorcycles in all areas, such as Grubhub stating that they support deliveries made in cars and on motorcycles in all delivery areas.

Can I claim miles when using an e-bike for delivery?

No. The IRS only allows the standard mileage allowance to be claimed on vehicles that meet their definition of a car. Bikes, e-bikes, and motorcycles do not meet that qualification. You can however claim the business portion of actual expenses of using your e-bike.

Can I write off the purchase price of an e-bike if I'm using it for delivery?

You may be able to write off a portion of the purchase price of an e-bike, but it's kind of tricky. An e-bike typically costs enough that it becomes a capital asset, which means it can't as easily be written off as an expense.

You can write off the percentage of depreciation of the bike that matches the business use of the e-bike. For example, if 75% of your use is for your business, you can write off 75% of the depreciation.

It may be possible to depreciate the entire purchase price in one year using either a Section 179 deduction or (if the purchase price was under $2,500) taking a de minimis safe harbor election. In either case, that would let you write off the business percentage of the purchase price in the first year. You should consult your tax professional to determine if this is an option for you.

Is e-bike rental tax deductible for delivery contractors?

Yes. You can write off the business percentage of the rental cost of an e-bike as a business expense. If you use the bike 75% of the time for business, that means you could write off 75% of the bike rental costs.

Are e-bike repair and maintenance costs tax deductible?

Yes. You can write off the costs of maintenance and repairs for the business percentage of your e-bike use. If 80% of your use of the bike is for business, you can write off 80% of the cost of tune-ups, repairs, and maintenance of your e-bike.

My first experiences delivering after converting my bike to an e-bike

This article was originally published in conjunction with episode 90 of the Deliver on Your Business podcast. I wrote and talked about my first impressions of what it was like delivering using my Surly Disc Trucker for delivery after doing an e-bike conversion.

The remainder of this article is the original post that talked about that experience.

Talking with Kevin had me thinking more about that mindset. I've been toying with getting an e-bike, and I decided to pull the trigger.

Let me just say, I've been pleasantly surprised about what it's been like, delivering for Doordash, Uber Eats, and sometimes Grubhub using my e-Bike. I'll get into that more in a bit.

My history with bicycles and delivery

First off, I'm a bike lover. I love tinkering with bikes and doing the occasional restoration of a vintage bike. I'm no expert mechanic by any means, but it's a fun hobby.

In fact that's how I got into my last W2 position. A new bike shop had opened up in my neighborhood, and I found out it was run by a cool nonprofit. It was kinda like a Goodwill for bikes – they sold and worked on used bikes, with the money supporting programs that helped kids get out on bikes.

I started volunteering, and at one point they had a need for help with their business management, so I stepped in for awhile. It was one of my favorite jobs ever.

I'm kind of a rebel against some of the cycling culture out there. There are too many bike shops out there where, if you walk in with the wrong kind of bike or if you don't look the part, you start sensing the judgment in a big way.

Cycling should be fun. It should be enjoyable. The industry needs to make it more accessible and get less exclusive.

But that's me getting up on a soap box.

One of my favorite books out there is one by Grant Peterson, who used to head up the US division of Bridgestone bikes and now runs his own Rivendell bike brand. As I read it, he was preaching to the choir. Here's my affiliate link to that book.

When I started delivering for Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash and Postmates, it was a great opportunity to just enjoy my bike a bit more.

Let me start by saying: I'm what they call a Clydesdale in cycling culture. As in, one really big bike rider.

And I'm slow.

But when I saw that there were opportunities to use your bike for delivery, I though that could be fun. It was a chance to make a few dollars doing something I already really enjoyed.

Emphasis on ‘a few.'

Did I mention that I'm slow? Slow as… okay, this is a g rated blog, so I'll leave it at that.

Dispatching for delivering by bike (or e-Bike) was horrible by Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash, Postmates… all of them!

Grubhub told me they don't have bike options at all here. They said that the dispatching is different because you have to deal with different distances, you are limited on what you can carry on your bike, and I was told the functionality wasn't built into the app.

Doordash told me pretty much the same. This was two years ago – we'll get into that more in a bit.

Postmates does have the ability to toggle your delivery mode. They were the best set up of anyone for being able to use your bicycle.

The problem was, they weren't very busy in the times I tried delivering.

Uber Eats was the best opportunity in my area. They did tell me I had to create a different account. That was because you sign up for auto delivery, or you sign up for bike delivery. They didn't have the ability to switch back and forth.

However, they supposedly had the ability to dispatch you appropriately for bike deliveries if you were signed up on a bike account.

The emphasis here is on ‘supposedly.'

I quickly learned that they didn't seem to dispatch much differently on my bike account than they were on my car account. I'm not sure it was different at all.

The problem with Uber Eats was that you didn't know where you were going at the time. I had several times I'd pick up an order, see the address was six to ten miles away, and would have to cancel. In fact, I was in danger of being deactivated for all the cancellations on my bike account.

There were days I'd deliver, but the dispatching was just frustrating, so I never really went all in.

Two major changes for bike delivery in my area.

The first change is that Uber Eats has changed how they dispatch. In fact, the information they provide is now maybe the best out there.

But they still suck at dispatching for bikes.

Screenshot of an Uber Eats order that was sent to my bike account wanting me to go 13.2 miles on a bike delivery.
This Uber Eats shows how bad they are at dispatching for when you're delivering on an e-Bike with a 13.2 mile offer – though Doordash has their challenges as well (and Grubhub who just has dispatch issues period)

The HUGE development in my area is when Doordash introduced Bicycle mode on their app last summer. It's huge because it actually works. They are much better at limiting the distance when you're in bike mode.

And they're busy enough in my market that I can stay busy.

So I got myself an e-Bike.

Sorta.

Actually I converted my own bike.

I did look into some e-Bikes. I even had worked out a sort of marketing deal with one company several weeks ago. I'm still waiting on the paperwork.

I have been hesitant about a lot of the e-Bikes that are out there. So many of them seem to be one size fits all. That might be great for most people, but those of us on either end of the size spectrum, we often don't fit into that ‘all.' I can tell you that a good fit is important if you're spending much time on a bike.

But I had my trusty Surly Disc Trucker. It's an awesome bike. I love that bike, mainly because I built it from the frame up. It has my own touches.

Did I mention I love that bike?

My e-Bike Conversion.

I called it my Delivery Truck. Here's the bike pre-conversion.

My Surly disc trucker, aka the Delivery Truck from when I first started delivering on bike for Grubhub Doordash and Uber Eats
My Surly disc trucker, aka the Delivery Truck.

I had rigged a cheap wooden basket that I picked up from Walmart onto a large front rack. It was big enough to put a delivery bag in and free me from using a big less secure back pack. The bottle opener is a fun touch (though I've never used it yet on deliveries).

My biggest concern was hauling drinks. Being out on a bike, there's no air conditioning and no protection from the sun. I picked up this BV cooler for my back rack. Then I'll chuck a freshly frozen re-useable ice pack into the cooler which stays cold for several hours for me.

I did a mid-range conversion with Electric Bike Outfitters

I do not have any relationship with Electric Bike Outfitters. Admittedly, I wish I did. After my experience, I can easily recommend them.

EBO is based here in Denver, but they supply electric bike conversion kits to bike shops across the country.

There are some brand new e-Bikes that are cheaper than the conversion kits. I know a lot of people who love some of those bikes. However, I made the decision because I knew my bike, it fit well, and it works well for me. I could do a conversion and have a known quantity.

Here's the bike now.

My Surly disc trucker after an e-bike conversion with a motor mounted under the pedals, battery mounted on the rear rack, and including frame bags and a cooler bag.
The e-Bike versiuon of my Surly Disc Trucker, all set for delivering Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats orders.

At first glance you can't see much difference. The major differences you see aren't really related to the e-Bike part of it.

Lately I've been using a backpack instead of the front basket. I may add the basket back as there are times I can load the food faster and keep it more secure. There are advantages both ways.

The frame bag in the middle has been a godsend. I had this made for me for a bike tour a few years ago by a friend of mine. If you want a custom frame bag for your bike, check out JPaks. You might have to wait a bit, Joe is in high demand, and the bags aren't cheap. But it's been worth every penny for me. (I do not have any referral relationship with JPaks).

I don't use the frame bag that much for delivery itself. But it's awesome for storage. Between tools, water bottles for myself, and being able to store an extra bag as a backup it's been awesome.

EBO did what is called a mid range conversion.

Basically what they did was replaced the crankset with a motor assisted unit. You can see the part added at the bottom.

Close up of the bottom bracket of my converted e-bike where the original pedals were replaced and a motor was mounted.
Electric Bike Outfitters converted my bike by replacing the crankset with a motorized version

Here's bascially how it works on an e-Bike. You're installing a big battery and an electric motor. The motor can either do all the work for you, where you engage the throttle and the engine turns, or it can do pedal assist. The motor can sense when you're pedaling and the more effort you have to put into pedaling (such as going up hill) the more the motor kicks in.

There are three ways you can do it. You can have the motor in the front wheel, the rear wheel, or at the crank (mid range). I chose to do a mid range system because it allowed me to keep most of my bike ‘intact' and it feels like a more natural ride.

The battery is installed as part of the rear rack.

Let me just say, these batteries are heavy.

The battery on my bike is mounted over the rear wheel, integrated into a rear rack. Because there's so much battery power, I can use an integrated tail light.
The battery on my bike is mounted over the rear wheel, integrated into a rear rack. Because there's so much battery power, I can use an integrated tail light.

There are typically two ways you can mount the battery. They'll usually be installed inside the frame, usually on the dowtube (the part of your bike frame that slopes from where your front wheel is attached down towards your pedals/cranks) or they can mount it over your back wheel as part of a rear rack.

Some control features are added on the handlebars.

A little LCD screen is mounted to the handlebars, which allows me to see things like my speed, how much battery I have, and what power level I have. There are five settings (if you include ‘power off' as a setting, each adding an extra level of assistance.

I also have a throttle that I can press with my thumb which will engage the motor if I'm just feeling too lazy to ride. The last thing they did was replace my brake handles with handles that have a cutoff switch. If I depress the brake, the motor will stop.

That's kind of an important feature.

How has it worked for me?

I've been pleasantly surprised.

Overall I'm averaging right at $27 per hour when on bike deliveries. That's right up there with what I'm making via car.

This last Sunday for instance, I went out for a few hours during the football games. I think every single delivery was from one of two Chipotle restaurants close to one another. But the food was ready, the deliveries were short. I was able to complete 4-1/4 deliveries per hour during that time.

That's a lot of Chipotle's. Normally I'd avoid those, but because I could do so many deliveries so quickly it paid off at $32 per hour.

And oh, by the way, using my eBike costs far less than using my car.

My observations since diving more into bike delivery

Here are a few thoughts I've had since doing more deliveries:

Doordash is a completely different option for me when I'm on my bike.

Because they do such a good job focusing on deliveries that can be accomplished on a bike, the deliveries I'm getting offered are much more efficient. My acceptance rate with Doordash is much much higher when I'm in bike mode.

The offer amount is nearly irrelevant.

I pay a lot less attention to the dollar amount when I'm on my bike. It's all about what can be done quickly. I'll still pass on those $3 offers. However, the $5 Chipotle deliveries that only take 10 minutes are quite profitable.

A good phone mount is worth its weight in gold.

When I first started out after the conversion, I was losing a lot of money because of the challenge of using your phone. Once upon a time in the past I'd used a phone mount on my handlebar that clamped the phone into place. After a handful of times of my phone flying off when I hit a bump, nearly having it run over, that was the end of that.

The problem then becomes, now what do you do? I keep it in a bag or in a pocket. The key to doing well on a bike, as Kevin mentioned in episode 84, is getting a lot of orders done. Being able to see and respond to delivery offers is critical.

I found this holder by Quadlock. It's a case mounted holder and it's fantastic. It costs more because you have to buy the phone case that goes with it. You just twist the case onto the mount and it is secure. I can see the offers as they come in now, and that's increased my earnings pretty substantially. And, I'm not afraid of it falling off.

The Quad Lock phone mount on my handlebars. You just twist and lock the phone onto it. It mounts and unmounts quickly and efficiently and I'm finding it one of the most effective tools for delivering on e-Bike for Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash
The Quad Lock phone mount on my handlebars. You just twist and lock the phone onto it. It mounts and unmounts quickly and efficiently and I'm finding it one of the most effective tools for delivering on e-Bike for Grubhub, Uber Eats and Doordash

In fact I liked it so much I bought their car mount as well. I can use the same case with my car as I do on my bike. Unfortunately I can't find their car mount on Amazon.

These are examples of options available. You can see more through the Quad Lock Amazon Store

I'm still a bit nervous about bike security.

Bike theft is a big deal in Denver. There are portions of the homeless community that have figured out they can make money stealing and selling bikes.

If anything slows me down, it's locking my bike up when I'm going to be inside a restaurant or have to go into an apartment building. I use a folding lock which works fairly well. I'd love to find a bike lock with a key fob that's quick unlocking and locking. I know there are smart locks that link to your phone but I've hard that most of them often have trouble connecting.

One bad connection on a smart lock will more than offset the time savings all the other times.

Location makes a difference

There are only two zones in the Denver area that you can log into in e-Bike mode on Doordash. And honestly, it makes sense.

Downtown is slightly better for bike deliveries in my area. There are areas right off downtown that are still pretty good because traffic is heavy enough that you can get through it quicker on a bike.

But if you're in a suburban or rural area where distances are longer, or where you can drive significantly faster consistently than you can ride, using an e-Bike is a bit of a disadvantage.

I live fairly close to one of those zone. It's about five miles from my house to where the first cluster of restaurants that's good for bike delivery. So I can ride my bike all the way in, or I can transport it with my car. Both options can kill some time and that's something to take into account.

The amount of time you can be out on delivery can be more limited.

A typical range for an e-Bike is 20-40 miles, depending on what level of assist you use.

I've been pretty happy. I've had a couple of 25 mile days where my battery indicator says I still have half my battery. (I do kinda suspect it's like my gas guage on my car though where half way really means about 1/3).

Typically I go mostly with pedal assist. I keep it on a lower power setting when I'm between deliveries, but once I get something I'm bumping up to the higher setting so I can get done faster.

I'm not sure I'd be able to do more than five or six hours at a time, at least not at the level I use it. For a lot of people, that's not an issue. I think my bigger concern with that is, I want to be able to use the throttle more to get me home at the end of the day.

Finding a good way to carry food is critical.

The thing is, you want to protect the food and get it there in good condition.

I mentioned the cooler – I've had a lot of people pleasantly surprised when they see me pull their drinks out of the cooler – it's really awesome with cans and bottles because you can feel how cold everything is.

I have an awesome backpack but I can't find one available any more. Way back when I got started, Uber Eats had their online store and sold it for $40, unfortunately they no longer have it available. The beautiful thing about it is there's a little zippered pouch at the bottom that will extend out big enough for a large 16 to 18 inch pizza. I've had a couple pizza places look a bit nervous when I pulled up on my bike but they were impressed by the backpack.

I do think people get a bit nervous when they see their food coming in on a bike. Is the food going to be hot? Will the drinks be cold? Will their food have been shaken up?

Those are legitimate questions. Finding good ways to take care of the food is pretty important.

And then there's the weather.

I'm fortunate. Denver has an amazing climate. Even in the winter (I expected quite the opposite). That means more days I can deliver.

But there are days when weather happens. Getting caught in the rain (or worse, snow!) can be no fun.

My overall thoughts delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats and Postmates on an e-Bike.

I've really been enjoying it.

I also think it's been good for me. While it's not as much demand on an e-Bike as when I was doing standard delivery, there's a lot more involved than riding around in my car. There's still some cardio going on.

The main thing is that I'm not pushing as hard getting up the hills. That's where the motor really becomes a beautiful thing. And, I can get around faster because of the assist. I think the battery lasts longer than I thought because I'm still doing a lot of the work. But now I can do it longer.

And the bottom line is, so far, I'm doing just about as well off the e-Bike as in my car. I'm not hitting the $40 per hour that Kevin was hitting – I'm not sure if I ever will.

The vast majority of deliveries have been with Doordash. Few of them have been more than $8, but that's okay. I can get them done quickly because tehy're short distance.

Uber Eats is horrible with their dispatching but once they do send one in that is shorter distance, it usually pays a lot better than Doordash.

I'll turn the Grubhub app on. Like I mentioned, they're not set up for bike delivery. That said, their distances aren't much worse than the ones Uber Eats has been sending. I think overall I've done one Grubhub delivery.

Which is more than I've done for Postmates. But that's because I've essentially fired them as my customer.

Today's the first day of fall. That's making me a little sad because I feel like I waited too long, getting my bike converted and doing the e-bike deliveries for Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats. I can see myself shifting more and more to e-Bike delivery, depending on the weather of course.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

Zach

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

I had the same concern about bike theft and not wanting to spend too much time locking my bike. To give myself peace of mind, I bought an alarm that can be activated with a keychain remote, so if anyone touches/moves your bike it makes a very loud noise. Personally this has made me more comfortable while running inside restaurants and apartment buildings and needing to leave my bike outside. I got mine on amazon for like $25, worth a try!

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About the Author

Ron Walter made the move from business manager at a non-profit to full time gig economy delivery in 2018 to take advantage of the flexibility of self-employment. He applied his thirty years experience managing and owning small businesses to treat his independent contractor role as the business it is.

Realizing his experience could help other drivers, he founded EntreCourier.com to encourage delivery drivers to be the boss of their own gig economy business.

Ron has been quoted in several national outlets including Business Insider, the New York Times, CNN and Market Watch.