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New bike messenger looking for advice

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New bike messenger looking for advice

Old 08-30-14, 05:08 AM
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eightflat
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New bike messenger looking for advice

Hello,

I'm going to be starting work as a bike messenger in a couple days, but I don't really know anyone to reach out to for advice. A big thank you in advance for anyone who takes the time to read this!

First off, I landed a gig in downtown Baltimore. Surprising, because I don't really consider Baltimore to be a big city, so I figured everything would be done by car. Nevertheless, I am happy to have gotten an opportunity to bike for a living, and I'm hopeful that I will enjoy doing it.

I will be using a Salsa Warbird. I've read that many people swear by fixed gear, due to (I assume) relatively less complications, meaning relatively less headaches, both technically and financially. I have seen some "success stories" of people using road bikes for messenger work, and I really take good care of my bike after every ride, what do you guys think? Ultimately, I won't be buying a fixed gear right away, no matter how many people recommend it, but I guess I want to start thinking about things like this while I wait.

Next, I'm wondering a couple things about bags... I was sad to notice that both Timbuk2 bags I own (coincidentally, since I haven't worked as a bike messenger before) have gaps which I would imagine heavy rain would find easily on both sides of the flap when they are closed. This is pretty bad isn't it? I'm planning on buying a new bag very soon (before I start working) which has a more waterproof design.

On that note, how does size of the bag come into consideration? As far as I understand, the packages I will be responsible for are going to be distributed to me every morning. This might sound unusual for people who work in big cities that probably have a central bike dispatch or office where bike messengering is all they do, but like I said, I don't consider Baltimore to be a big city and I believe I am one of three messengers total. I can't imagine people pack their entire day's work in one bag. How does this actually work? Pack as much as I can and go? Will most of the deliveries be documents/sheets? I've seen messengers with giant kite like contraptions with cables and belts everywhere, and I've seen messengers with... well, messenger bags. I was hoping to have more clarity by now, but I have yet to meet with my supervisor, I was only given speculation from the hiring manager.

Lastly, I'm wondering how speed is an actual factor for being a good messenger. I've read a lot of accounts that say it's mostly about waiting. Waiting for deliveries to come in, for security to clear, for secretaries to sign, etcera. Also, I have a hard time believing that messengers are pushing their physical limits to race like levels at all times. This is not to say that I don't think it's important to be fast, but I'm just curious as to how tight the timing actually is? For example, will I be getting routes where I literally have to be going 35 MPH on average or else I won't make it? How dead do you guys feel after a day of work? I know it will probably be a little different depending on the city, but just curious.

If you have any other advice or general thoughts about the work, I would really appreciate it!

Last edited by eightflat; 08-30-14 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 08-31-14, 04:09 AM
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Dahon.Steve
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You didn't state what lock you're going to use and this is just as important as your bicycle. An ordinary U-Lock is not enough especially with the kind of bike you're going to be riding. Get the Kryptonite New York Chain ASAP. A number of bike messengers do not use the lock it comes with and go for an American lock, the kind grocery stores use.

Good luck.
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Old 08-31-14, 04:42 AM
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eightflat
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Thanks! I actually am using the New York Chain. Is an American lock stronger than the one it comes with, easier to use, or what? What do you think about putting a GPS tracker in the tube? Would've sounded like overkill to me a couple weeks ago, but I'm suddenly a lot more conscious about it.

Would really like to know your thoughts on bags if you come back to this.
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Old 08-31-14, 08:19 AM
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Maybe you should reach out to R.E. Load for their thoughts on bags. They're a couple of ex-messengers who've been custom building bags for bike messengers since '98 out of Philly, and I believe are pretty well respected in the East Coast scene.

Custom Messenger Bags since 1998! Build your own bag at R.E.Load!
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Old 08-31-14, 08:30 AM
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Thanks, I will definitely look into that!
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