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Making Money With A Cargo Bike

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Making Money With A Cargo Bike

Old 01-23-18, 06:34 PM
  #1  
Mayonnaise
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Making Money With A Cargo Bike

Greetings,

I've fallen in love with the idea of a cargo bike and in particular the LvH Bullitt.

An old racing buddy of mine sells them and I've got the space in the garage to keep it. So I'm dialed in.

But, if I buy one more bike my wife will (fill in the blank).

I thought, well, if I can make enough money in one summer to pay for it, I'll pull the trigger.

Good, good...ok...how do I make money?

A delivery service of course.

In my opinion, I live in a perfect area for it. I live on the far south side of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood. It's full of young families just getting started as well as an aging populace. Less than a half mile from where I'm typing is a brand new outdoor mall with many chain stores: Meijer, Menards, Sams, Walmart, as well as a ton of others.

There are 2 big hospitals within minutes, more grocery stores than you care to count, and plenty of liquor stores.

Making the picture even more ideal is the infrastructure. I can get into most of these places by cutting through neighborhoods and crossing very few major streets. It couldn't be much safer.

I work evenings so I've got mornings and early afternoons free.

I've got a solid foundation planned but I'm at a loss.

I don't know how to begin.

I've looked into the grocery delivery apps and am considering them, but I'd rather be more of an independent.

So I come here looking for advice/encouragement.

If I can make $200 per week that would be enough to pay for the bike. Also, I'm super fussy about my bikes and keep them clean and well maintained all the time. If things don't go well, I'd put the cargo bike on eBay and liquidate it.

Feel free to tell me to save my money for something else, like retirement.
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Old 01-23-18, 06:42 PM
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Cost of business insurance taken into account?
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Old 01-23-18, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by FBOATSB View Post
Cost of business insurance taken into account?
was going to ignore that until it presented itself as necessary
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Old 01-24-18, 05:42 AM
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Any licensing necessary?
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Old 01-24-18, 03:06 PM
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PL&PD insurance?




Many years ago a friend got an insulated box on their bike and some dry ice and sold ice cream at a public gathering ..

.. had a toy Xylophone, and played 'the Hoky Poky' on it to get the customer's attention..




...

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-25-18 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 01-25-18, 10:31 AM
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don't now about the various happenings around there, but I notice each year around derby time there are a few people doing the bike cab thing around the track area. they're using more rick-shawish looking bikes though.
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Old 01-26-18, 01:45 PM
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We have a business in Sacramento like that: https://www.ediblepedal.com/ They deliver from local restaurants and CSAs. The draw for the restaurants/businesses is to able to tout the sustainability of the food/business. Not sure how monetarily successful it is, but they've been around for several years now. I'd start by reaching out to the businesses rather than trying to approach it from the consumer side.
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Old 01-26-18, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Philphine View Post
don't now about the various happenings around there, but I notice each year around derby time there are a few people doing the bike cab thing around the track area. they're using more rick-shawish looking bikes though.
Some of the cargo trikes can be designed to carry either passengers or cargo (front or rear?)

To be effective, I think you either have to have a short-term plan, such as rickshaw at concerts and events, perhaps shuttling from the parking lot to the front gate, and accepting "tips". Bar hopping? University Campus cruises?

Or you have to have a long-term plan. 12 months a year... several days a week. Get your name out there, and have a service as dependable as UPS, and get some clients that trust your services. If you wish to work with hospitals, talk to them about their requirements (confidentiality, drugs, chain of custody, liability, etc).

This is the local bike co-op here in Eugene.



They also do valet bike parking for events, and have bike racks that can be disassembled and carried by bike & trailer.

Last edited by CliffordK; 01-26-18 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 01-26-18, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mel2012 View Post
We have a business in Sacramento like that: https://www.ediblepedal.com/ They deliver from local restaurants and CSAs. The draw for the restaurants/businesses is to able to tout the sustainability of the food/business. Not sure how monetarily successful it is, but they've been around for several years now. I'd start by reaching out to the businesses rather than trying to approach it from the consumer side.
I have heard Portland also has bicycle delivered re-usable food trays for the food carts. Rig to deliver clean trays. Separate rig to pick up the dirty ones, clean them, and send them back out.
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Old 01-26-18, 02:39 PM
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Another option to have a cargo bike pay for itself is to not earn any money on it at all, but rather displace other expenses.

If you can sell/stop using/stop insuring/stop licensing/don't buy a car, then it may well be worth a lot of savings. It might take a big commitment, but going from a 2-car family to a 1-car family, or a 1-car family to ZERO-car family may well pay for your cargo bike without resorting to building a commercial service.

I can often carry more on my bike than is convenient in many cars.

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Old 01-29-18, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post


is this your's? I've been collecting parts for an edgerunner type fatbike for a while, but I haven't tried to start the actual build yet.
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Old 01-29-18, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Philphine View Post
is this your's? I've been collecting parts for an edgerunner type fatbike for a while, but I haven't tried to start the actual build yet.
Yep.

It was a fun build from a couple of years ago, and it truly is a BEAST in many senses.

Front is a vintage Steyr Clubman.
Rear is a Mongoose Massif 20x4.25

It is a little flexy, and I think I ended up with some alignment issues causing a bit of a wobble when descending loaded/pulling.

If I do it again, there will be changes, but I haven't quite decided what. I'm not as excited about the small-fat rear end as I was when the idea popped into my mind, and don't really like the wide Q-Factor cranks.

Personally I don't use the "cargo" option as much as I had originally expected, and mainly use it for towing.

I may try something a little different as a tow vehicle. I've been thinking about an upright trike as a "tractor".
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Old 09-15-18, 02:50 AM
  #13  
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Bullitt is nice, but you might be coming into this from the deep end.

I'm too afraid to tally up how much I paid to build up my Bullitt.
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Old 09-15-18, 10:17 AM
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Chicago? maybe Protection money ? Will have someone collecting it ,
and offering you , 'continued good health' in exchange..
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Old 09-24-18, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Another option to have a cargo bike pay for itself is to not earn any money on it at all, but rather displace other expenses.

If you can sell/stop using/stop insuring/stop licensing/don't buy a car, then it may well be worth a lot of savings. It might take a big commitment, but going from a 2-car family to a 1-car family, or a 1-car family to ZERO-car family may well pay for your cargo bike without resorting to building a commercial service.

I can often carry more on my bike than is convenient in many cars.

holy **** tell me you were actually able to ride that much weight?
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Old 09-30-18, 10:09 PM
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Finally, I can post links!

Here's my Bullitt build.

Rohloff-Gates-BBSHD-Bullitt
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Old 03-25-22, 10:48 AM
  #17  
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I commute in NYC, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queen and Hoboken, NJ area;
I see delivery folks on ebikes or cargo ebikes delivering for restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, even Amazon, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc..


I talk to them when I'm out on my cargo ebike delivering leftover food from schools to homeless shelters in Brooklyn also on my commute in the area;
general consensus is that they can easily make $100 per day just tips alone, the records I've heard is about $300 per day when weather is particularly bad.
Keep in mind that this is a highly concentrated area that have very high demand for these ebike delivery services.
I doubt any of them carry any insurance.

Majority of ebikes I see them riding are Arrow brand: https://www.roadbikerider.com/nyc-arrow-e-bike-brand/
https://youtu.be/9Rw10qyoWFo

There must be thousands of them in NYC metro alone, if they are not reliable I doubt these delivery folks would use them in such great numbers.
And these guys are out there 24/7, all weather; the foul weather conditions actually bring them more tips and opportunities for work.
More recently I'm beginning to see more 20" fat ebikes, for they are slightly lower to the ground, offer lower seat height, more comfortable ride with fit tires (I suspect)
and less likely for spoke/wheel damage, especially the ebike has cast wheels. The streets of NYC metro can get pretty bad with potholes.
Not sure about Chicago area, but at least that's my understanding from talking to the ebike delivery folks in NYC metro.

Rarely do I see delivery folks riding expensive (above $3k) cargo bikes, with exception of company vehicles or fleet vehicles..
Majority of the delivery folks make their money from being frugal on capital spending, keeping their operational cost down to make more profits.
Which aligns with general principal of using bicycles or ebikes, no vehicle registration, license, insurance or paying for parking or tolls.

Last edited by cat0020; 03-26-22 at 05:25 AM.
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Old 03-28-22, 02:47 PM
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I'm pretty skeptical that you'd be able to make a Bullitt pay for itself. They ain't cheap. Finding enough customers would be tough, and the only people who would actively want services delivered by bike are probably up in Wicker Park...way too far to commute on a Bullitt.

Maybe you should do what I did: I wanted a cargo bike for years, but couldn't justify the cost. Then we had a kid, and suddenly the Douze looked a whole lot cheaper than a minivan/SUV. Problem solved!

That said, if you're willing to take the risk, do you have any other skills you could combine with the bike? How about cooking? Cykelkokken in Copenhagen does a good business; I could see Chicago yuppies paying significant money for a tour and an upscale picnic by the lake.

Or maybe something like gardening or painting/handyman service might work OK, if you could undercut the other guys who are running vans. That'd be hard work for not much cash, though.

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Old 03-28-22, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
I'm pretty skeptical that you'd be able to make a Bullitt pay for itself. They ain't cheap. Finding enough customers would be tough, and the only people who would actively want services delivered by bike are probably up in Wicker Park...way too far to commute on a Bullitt.
Our local bike co-op runs the local bike delivery service. Probably not a get rich scheme, but I believe it is reasonably self supporting including wages. They have a niche of rapid document and small parcel delivery, and I think also doing something with an urban garden.

Portland had a business of reusable food boxes which I think they were picking up and dropping off with cargo bikes.

https://goboxpdx.com/
https://foodprint.org/blog/reusable-...ake-out-trash/

I met a guy in the Tacoma/Sellwood area in southern Portland that had built a trailer and modular crates for the food box recycling.

It would be a point that cargo bikes, and e-cargo bikes come in all sizes and shapes. So one should choose one that meets one's needs.

A number of the expenses such as gas, insurance, and even vehicles would be a lot lower than a car based business.
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Old 04-09-22, 05:27 PM
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I like the bullet. Essentially it's an aluminium longjohn. I've owned two longjohn style bikes (both homemade frames -one I bought in Jylland and rode around Copenhagen for a couple years and the other one I paid a guy in Belfast who welded together bike frames to make for me). I don't have either of these anymore. In fact I've sort of gone to the opposite extreme and ride a 20" Swift folder which is a far sportier bike that takes up much less space than even a conventional road bike let alone a cargo bike. I enjoyed both my longjohns while I had them but unless I ever get a place I can store it indoors and have a need for them I think that my days of big cargo bikes are over.





That said, hypothetically if I were in the market for a cargo bike now and I had a pot of cash to spend on it I probably wouldn't splash it out on a Bullit or any other type of longjohn. Instead I'd consider an Omnium. When I was in Berlin a couple of years ago I noticed a lot of the couriers were using these. The main advantage the Omnium bikes have over a conventional longjohn is that the load is carried above the fork so a bulkier shaped package can be more easily carried.

https://omniumcargo.dk/shop/product-...ames/classics/


​​​​​Anyone have any experience with Omnium bikes? Like Bullit also made in Denmark.

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Old 04-10-22, 06:47 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Mayonnaise View Post
I don't know how to begin.

I've looked into the grocery delivery apps and am considering them, but I'd rather be more of an independent.

So I come here looking for advice/encouragement.

If I can make $200 per week that would be enough to pay for the bike. Also, I'm super fussy about my bikes and keep them clean and well maintained all the time. If things don't go well, I'd put the cargo bike on eBay and liquidate it.

Feel free to tell me to save my money for something else, like retirement.

Instacart is what most delivery service around NYC metro use:

https://www.instacart.com/
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Old 05-17-22, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
Instacart is what most delivery service around NYC metro use:

https://www.instacart.com/
This. You need to sign up with an established delivery service. How else are you going to get customers?? Unless you have a huge network of neighbors that you KNOW need things delivered, there is no way to make this profitable. It would take months to build up a customer base.

I was thinking of Instacart as well, which is popular in Atlanta. If you can fit one or two grocery runs worth of stuff into the cargo bike, could be a valid option for doing deliveries.

You could also consider doing meal deliveries like Uber Eats or Grubhub or whatever. As long as you live close enough to certain restaurants to be able to make deliveries before the food gets cold... The downside is it is more time sensitive to get people food rather than groceries. Might not work out for long distance deliveries.

I don't think Instacart pays very well though. Neither do Uber Eats and all those types of things. But you are not using gasoline running the bike, so it would be all profit? Just your own time investment.

There are tons of Youtube tutorials and videos on all these services, do some of your own research whether it would be worth it.
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Old 09-17-22, 10:12 AM
  #23  
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I worked as a courier on cargo bikes. Lots of food delivery apps need catering orders delivered, offices will order a ton of food for meetings ect. You can talk to the the apps and they will set you up with these orders. Also those premade meals like blue apron we made a lot of money from just doing last mile. Talk to local farmers markets and bakery's ect. Look for places that care about being green. Also you could get a job with a proper courier company and use your cargo bike and the dispatcher will keep you full up as long as your fast.

I also really love omnium style cargo bikes they can cut through traffic much faster and are way easier to store in a house ect. They can handle oversized loads really well, useful for lumber ect, but don't do as well with really heavy loads, like children or wood stoves. Look into omniums or any short jawn as well!
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