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If you want to get into food delivery, but don’t want the expense or hassle of a car, or the sheer exhaustion that comes from pedaling dozens of fully-loaded pizzas up steep city streets for hours on end, then an electric delivery bike may be the best solution for you.
With all the benefits of delivering by regular bike (dodging the traffic, getting fit and reducing carbon emissions) and none of the disadvantages of a car (cheaper to buy, no parking charges, or gas bills), ebikes are becoming a popular choice for speedily delivering a range of things, from alcohol to hamburgers to parcels.
ebikes are fantastic for food delivery, but they’re more expensive than regular bikes. So, it’s important to get the right one for you, your location, and the deliveries you’ll be doing.
When you’re looking at the cost of ebikes it’s worth bearing in mind that the price difference can be offset by higher profits: you’ll be able to travel at higher speeds for more hours than on a regular bike – faster journeys means you’ll be able to make more deliveries per shift – and more deliveries means higher profits for you.
It’s also important to know what else you need to get going (think: sturdy bike lock to keep your bike safe, bike helmet to keep your head safe, and powerful bike lights to let other road users know you’re delivering urgent late-night supplies of fried chicken).
You also need to be certain that the food delivery app companies in your area allow delivery by ebike (hint: most are happy with this), how you apply to deliver by ebike, and what you need to provide in your application.
There’s a lot to consider, isn’t there? But, don’t worry, we’re going to go through all the details right now.
Those burritos are nearly ready to go, so there’s no time to waste!
What are the benefits of delivering food by ebike?
Whether you’re a veteran delivery rider, or just getting set up for your first delivery gig, you’ll have seen more and more electric bikes being used to deliver food.
And that’s not surprising because there’s a ton of advantages to using ebikes for food delivery:
- Faster than a regular push bike, but with all the health benefits of cycling
- Cheaper than a car but without the exhaustion of delivering by regular bike
Let’s dive in and take a look at the pros of delivering food by ebike.
eBikes are faster than a regular bike (and potentially faster than a car too)
In the US, Class 1 ebikes can travel at speeds of up to 20mph with pedal-assist (15.5mph or 25km/h in the UK and EU).
Whilst you might be able to pedal a regular bike at that speed for a period of time, it will become harder and harder with a full cargo, and especially later on your shift.
Maintaining those speeds on a regular bike day after day? Ain’t going to happen.
On an ebike however, you’ll be able to cruise along at these speeds for hour after hour, day after day.
A faster average speed over your shift means you’ll be able to:
- Complete more deliveries (and earn more money)
- Get food delivered to customers whilst it’s still piping hot (and get bigger tips)
It’s a simple formula:
More deliveries + happier customers = more $$$ in your pocket
Compared to car deliveries, ebikes can be significantly faster as there’s no danger of getting caught in gridlocked city streets.
Never again will you have to phone up an irate customer to say, “Sorry I’m late, I’m stuck in traffic.”
eBikes are cheaper than a car (to buy and run)
The average price of an ebike is $1000 – $4000 (example: RadRunner Plus from Rad Power Bikes).
The average price of a compact car is $20,000 – $28,000 (example: Toyota Corolla).
A tank of gas for a compact car is around $60 (example: Toyota Corolla). Plus, you’ll need to factor in any relevant registration fees, congestion charges, road tax, and insurance.
In contrast, in most areas, ebikes don’t need to be insured and aren’t liable for registration fees, road tax or congestion charges.
Maintenance costs for ebikes are substantially cheaper than cars, with fewer parts to go wrong and less expensive components to replace if they do.
It all adds up to big savings when you choose an ebike rather than a car for food delivery.
eBikes are less tiring than a regular bike
Cycling an average of 40-60 miles every shift on a regular bike is physically exhausting.
Throughout a shift your legs would get more and more fatigued, meaning that your speed would decline, deliveries would take longer, and you’d be able to manage fewer total deliveries.
With an electric bike you can maintain the maximum speed through the entire shift without getting tired leg muscles.
Fresher legs means faster delivery times and the ability to work longer hours, take on more shifts, and earn more money.
It also means that you’re not so exhausted at the end of a shift that you can’t enjoy a little well-earned leisure time.
eBikes are better for your health than a car
Spending endless hours in a car can lead to major health problems, such as:
- Higher levels of obesity
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Elevated blood pressure
In contrast, cycling an ebike can have fantastic benefits to your health, including:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness – keep your heart healthy
- Better muscle strength – especially in the legs and butt
- Higher metabolism and reduction in body fat – burn those calories
- Lower stress levels – get a dose of mood-boosting endorphins
- Better balance – improved coordination
eBikes are less hassle than a car
Electric bikes are easier to park during your shift – either outside restaurants when you’re collecting orders or at a customer’s apartment block when you’re delivering.
Parking for bikes is usually free and plentiful, even in busy city-center locations. Just make sure you have a good bike lock with you to secure your ebike to a handy bike rack or lamppost.
A big bonus is that you’ll be able to take your ebike direct to a customer’s door – rather than hunting for a parking space for a car, then walking the rest of the way to the delivery address.
Time spent searching for car parking spaces means fewer deliveries per shift and fewer dollars in your pocket.
Pro tip – Remember that you can also store your ebike safely in your apartment or garage between shifts – there’s no need to spend time at the end of every shift trying to find a car parking space, when all you want to do is hit the hay!
What are the disadvantages of delivering food by ebike?
Electric bikes are a fantastic option for making deliveries: they’re fast, hassle-free, way cheaper than a car and better for your health.
However they do have a number of disadvantages vs delivering by car or regular bike and it’s worth taking a moment to explore these.
Are any of the following deal-breakers? My strong view is that they’re not and that there’s a work-around for each that keeps ebikes at the top of the podium for food delivery.
Lack of weather protection vs a car
Whilst you might be used to rain and snow if you’re trading up your delivery vehicle from a regular bicycle, this may be a concern if you’re new to delivery riding and live in an area with extreme weather conditions.
Cars may appear to offer more protection but, given that you’ll often have to park and walk to restaurant pick-ups and customer deliveries, it’s obvious that cars can only offer protection some of the time.
There are a couple great options to give weather protection on an ebike:
Firstly, invest in a set of front and rear fenders to attach to your bike – these stop wheel spray and puddles from flying up and soaking you as you pedal.
Secondly, get a set of good quality cycling waterproofs – bike rain jacket with a drop hem to keep your butt dry and close-fitting waterproof pants that won’t get caught in your chain.
Battery range and refuelling options
If your gas tank runs dry, you can just get a tank of fuel and keep on delivering.
If your ebike runs out? You’ll either need to pedal without assistance from the motor (tough but doable), end your shift (and lose potential earnings), or stop for a break to charge up the battery.
There are a number of ways to get around this issue when you’re using an ebike for delivery:
Always charge your battery up at the end of every shift – never start your day with a battery that isn’t fully topped up.
Choose an ebike that has a higher capacity battery (shown as ‘Wh’ or ‘Watt-hours’) that will ensure it can deliver the volts needed for longer.
Consider buying an extra battery to keep with you on the bike and swap over when the first one runs out – these can seem expensive (at around $500), but it’s worth comparing to the $ benefit you’ll get from being able to work longer shifts.
More expensive than a regular bike to buy
The average price for a regular bike that’s suitable for delivery is $500 – $800 (example: REI’s CTY 1.1).
Electric bikes are more expensive than this, with an average of $1k-$4k (example: Rad Power’s RadRunner Plus).
Bear in mind though that you’ll be able to work longer shifts on an ebike, make more deliveries, and earn more cash – this can easily offset the higher initial price you’ll pay for an ebike.
Ebikes are heavier than regular bikes
This can be an issue when you need to carry your bike – for example, up stairs to your apartment or up city center streets, when you need to take a shortcut.
If this is likely to be of concern for you in your delivery area, then make sure you choose an ebike that is as light as possible – compare the RadMission 1 at 48 lbs / 22 kg with the RadWagon 4 at 77 lbs / 35 kg.
It’s also useful to know that many pedal-assist ebikes also have a ‘walk-assist’ mode – allowing you to use the throttle without pedaling when you want to wheel your ebike up a steep slope.
What do you need to get started delivering by ebike?
Apart from the obvious (an ebike!) there are a number of bike and cycling accessories that you’ll need if this is your first time delivering by bike.
Keep in mind that it’s not essential to have all of these at the get-go!
For example, you’ll need to be able to carry food, so an insulated food delivery bag is essential, but you could begin without bike racks and carry this on your back.
Similarly, waterproof jackets and pants may not be needed if you’re starting to deliver in the summer, but as the days and nights get chillier it’s worth investing in good quality gear to keep you warm and dry.
Let’s take a look at everything you’ll eventually need for delivering food by electric bike:
Check out my guide to buying an electric delivery bike below.
There are many options to carry food orders but the main point is that you will need to have an insulated food delivery bag to keep food either hot or cold.
An insulated food delivery bag can either be worn on your back (like a backpack) or be strapped to your bike.
A front or rear rack fitted to your bike is the best way to carry an insulated food bag on your ebike – it’s worth looking out for ebikes that have these pre-installed to avoid extra expense when you’re just getting started.
Carrying food on your ebike (rather than on your back) is less tiring and you can carry heavier orders – however carrying food on your back can make for quicker deliveries as you won’t need to keep securing and detaching bags from bike racks.
Pro tip – Some food delivery riders refuse large orders (such as pizza boxes) as they can be tricky to carry on a bike – but with the right prep they’re simple – just get a flat rear rack (or buy a bike with one pre-installed), add an insulated food bag that’s large enough for the boxes and straps to attach it to your rack, and you’re ready to take those orders.
Any bike helmet that meets the safety standards in your location is good to use (see CPSC in the US and EN-1078 in the UK and EU) – I’d recommend looking at bike helmets with MIPS protection as these can add an extra layer of safety for your head.
Front and rear lights
A good set of front and rear lights is essential for delivery riding – even if you only plan to deliver during daylight hours – you might be caught out and have to make a delivery in the twilight or take a shortcut through a long tunnel.
Make sure the lights are USB-chargeable so that you won’t be making regular trips to the grocery store for fresh batteries.
It’s also worthwhile enhancing your visibility with other lights, such as ones that attach to your helmet or light-up bike pedals.
Hi-vis bike clothing
Make it easy for drivers to see you by wearing high-visibility bike clothing – a bright jersey and a eye-catching waterproof cycling jacket can give other road users a heads-up that you’re heading their way.
Warm and waterproof bike clothing
For chilly early morning or late evening deliveries you’ll need warm close-fitting base layers – look out for merino wool garments, which are expensive but cozy and stay stink-free.
Bike gloves are useful, not only for keeping your hands warm, but also for giving protection in case of a fall (skinned palms are no fun at all).
A waterproof hi-vis bike jacket is important and it’s good to team this up with waterproof bike pants – these differ from hiking bike pants with a snugger, less billowy fit, that ensures they don’t catch in your bike chain.
An essential company asset (which your delivery bike is) needs to be protected from theft.
Remember that it only takes 30 seconds for an opportunistic thief to steal a bike – popping into a restaurant for a couple minutes to collect an order is ample time – so don’t give thieves a chance.
Buy a good quality bike lock and make sure you use it to secure your ebike to a fixed object (such as a bike rack or lamppost) whenever you leave it.
Many ebikes will enable you to lock the battery to the bike frame so that this can’t be stolen either.
Simple repair kit
A small repair kit and the knowledge to complete minor repairs (grab a bike repair book for this) will save you time and money.
Make sure you carry a couple of inner tubes that are the correct size for your tires (see our Bike Inner Tube Size Chart).
Also pack a portable bike pump, tire levers and a multitool.
Punctures and other problems are a fact of life for delivery riders – but with the right kit and know-how you can be back on the road fast.
When you’re cycling many miles a day on a long shift you’re going to get thirsty.
Getting dehydrated will stop you performing at your best and may mean that you have to cut your shift short (and earn fewer dollars).
The best option is to fit a bottle cage to your bike frame (normally on the downtube) and get a water bottle to keep in it. These are cheap and readily available and many restaurants will be happy to give you a top-up if you’re running low on fluids.
An alternative is to use a hydration backpack – these can carry more water and are useful if you don’t want to leave a water bottle on your bike when you park it.
Storing your ebike indoors (either in your apartment or in a garage) is the best option for keeping it safe from opportunistic thieves and soggy or icy weather.
If that’s not possible and you have to store it outdoors, then make sure you protect it using a high-quality bike lock and (in locations where you get poor weather) a waterproof bike cover.
These will help to stop rust and ensure that your investment is ready to use for longer.
Look for bike covers that allow a bike lock to be threaded through the cover and your ebike – these keep the cover in place and are useful in windy conditions.
Remember that having all the safety gear in the world doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the rules of the road in your area – Stay safe – a day off as a result of an injury is a day of lost earnings.
Choosing an electric bike for food delivery
There’s a lot of different factors to consider when you’re choosing the right ebike for food delivery. Ebikes are fantastic, but some are better for making deliveries on than others.
So, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the most important buying criteria when you’re deciding which bike to go for in our buying guide to electric delivery bikes.
When you’re choosing the right bike type for you, it’s important to think about the sorts of bike you’re used to riding and the area that you’ll be making deliveries in.
For example, full-suspension MTBs might be your weekend go-to for gnarly backcountry mountain bike trails, but they won’t be much use for city-center food delivery: too heavy, too slow, and few options for adding cargo racks.
Electric Hybrid bikes – such as the RadMission 1 are a great option for food delivery. They’re some of the lightest ebikes available, they’re fast and nimble, and you can add front and rear racks to give you all the cargo capacity you need.
Electric Cargo bikes – (example: RadWagon 4) these are heavier than hybrid/commuter ebikes, but give a significant increase in cargo capacity.
Electric Folding bikes – (check out the RadExpand 5) – all the cargo capacity you need and with the added bonus of being able to safely and easily store them in your apartment closet between shifts.
Electric Cruiser bikes – great for going to the beach but less useful for food delivery (check out the RadMission 1 step-through instead).
In the US, ebikes are generally allowed to be used on paved roads. However the rules vary by state and it’s worthwhile checking out the current ebike rules in your location.
Electric bikes vary greatly in terms of the distances they will travel on a single battery charge.
A larger battery capacity can be useful for longer shifts and also for delivering in more spread-out areas, such as Los Angeles or in rural locations.
It’s useful to ask around other delivery riders in your area to see what their average mileage is per shift and then use this to compare to the distances shown for the ebikes you’re considering purchasing – there’s no point in buying an ebike that’s capable of 200 miles when you’ll only ever do 20 miles in a shift!
The mileages that manufacturers claim their bikes can achieve are affected hugely by the terrain you’re traveling in (hillier routes mean batteries get depleted faster and you will be able to get fewer miles from your electric bike)
Battery range can be extended by modifying your cycling – use low gears for hills and starting, also turn the pedal-assist power down a notch or two when your legs are feeling fresh.
In the US ebikes are normally limited to either 20 mph (Class 1 and 2) or 28 mph (Class 3).
These speeds are likely to be substantially higher than you could expect to average on a regular analog bike.
Given the density of traffic in most city centers, it’s also highly probable that these speeds are higher than you could achieve doing food delivery by car – especially when you factor in the walking that you would need to do from where your car is parked to the restaurant or customer.
How much is an electric delivery bike? The average you should expect to pay for a good quality ebike that is suitable for delivering food is $1000-$4000.
On top of this you may need to purchase rear and/or front bike racks and an insulated food delivery bag.
It’s worth taking a look to see whether there are instalment payment options for the bike you are considering as this can make them much more affordable when you’re just starting out – for example, Rad Power Bikes currently have a tie-in with Affirm and Vvolt have a facility to pay via Klarna.
Gears or no gears
Should you choose an ebike with gears for food delivery?
Gears can be useful in hilly areas (for example, San Francisco) – allowing you to drop down to a lower gear for steeper ascents and therefore preserve your battery levels for longer.
At the same time, gears can also be another part of a bike that needs to be maintained – so if you don’t need them, then it’s worth considering if you should buy an ebike that doesn’t have gears.
When you’re riding your ebike day in and day out you need it to perform reliably.
Choose a bike from a well-respected manufacturer (example: Rad Power bikes or REI Co-op) – they are likely to have better after-sales support when things break or stop working.
Also, choose an ebike that offers the lowest levels of maintenance – features to look out for include:
No gears – they’re useful for steep city streets but, if you don’t need them, then there’s less to go wrong
Puncture-proof tires – fixing punctures takes time when you could be making deliveries and earning money
Rigid forks – front and rear suspension (like you get on mountain bikes) is heavy, adds to the purchase price and will need to be maintained
Many delivery riders choose to ride with just an insulated food delivery bag on their backs.
That’s the cheapest way to get started, but it can be tiring to carry a backpack full of food orders all day long.
Investing in a bike that has pre-installed rear or front racks, and fitting your insulated bag to the rack, can be less tiring and also make your bike more stable (because the food weight will be lower down than on your back).
Having a front rack in addition to a rear rack will effectively double your cargo capacity and allow you to carry larger food orders at once – tapping into deliveries that other riders can’t handle and putting more money in your pocket.
USB Charging point
You’ll be using your phone a lot during every shift in order to map out journeys, contact customers and watch your bank balance go up.
That much phone use means that your cellphone battery will get drained quickly.
On a regular bike this is a problem as you’ve got nowhere to charge it back up.
However, many ebikes come (example: RadWagon 4) come with a USB charging port so you can keep your phone battery topped up.
Which food delivery apps can you ride for and how do you apply?
DoorDash vs Grubhub vs UberEats vs Postmates vs Deliveroo vs Just Eat? How do you choose which delivery service to ride for? Can you ride for more than one? Can you ride for them on an electric bike? What do you need to do to apply for and ride for each of them?
The short answer is that all of the major food delivery apps allow you to use an ebike for making deliveries.
It’s a no-brainer for them really – ebike deliveries are better for the environment (and their ‘green credentials’) than car deliveries. They’re also likely to be faster than deliveries by regular bike. Win win!
Can I deliver Uber Eats with an electric bike? Yes! More details here.
Can you do DoorDash with an ebike? Yes! Check out the details here.
Can you deliver for Deliveroo by e-bike? Yes! Here are the details.
Electric bikes are possibly the best vehicle for making food deliveries.
Faster than a regular push bike – and a LOT less tiring.
Depending on your location they may also be faster than using a car as well.
They’re also WAY healthier for you than sitting in a car all day driving from one place to the next (and spending lots of time sat in gridlocked traffic).
In the last few years ebike prices have tumbled and bike technology has soared making them a fantastic option for deliveries, whether you’re a DoorDash dasher or an Uber Eats rider.
There are food orders waiting to be delivered – go make some money!