This blog will be about the life and experiences of an active motorcycle courier in the UK who rides all over the UK and into western Europe. http://www.sdsamotorcyclecouriers.co.uk

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Mid Layer Thermals - First Use

I had the chance to test out these Sub Zero Thermals yesterday, Friday 12th December on a run from Peterborough to Harlow, a round trip of 180 miles.

The weather was horrible, very cold and thick fog both ways, the whole run took about 4 hours in all because of the M11 and A14 traffic around Cambridge in the early evening.

Anyway, for this run I wore my normal silk base layer with the new thermals as the mid layer underneath the Gortex outer suit.

First impression was how well these Sub Zero thermals fitted, almost like a second skin so to speak but without being tight or restrictive in any way.

Regarding performance, all I can say is brilliant, I didn't get too hot nor did I get cold at all, it was almost as if they had a thermostat on them to regulate the temperature. But, yes it was a warm and comfortable ride in what were pretty awfull weather conditions for the whole of the trip.

So based on this I can wholeheartedly recommend the Factor 2 Mid Layer Thermals from Sub Zero, see my previous post about these to find the link to their current special offer.

And as footnote, see my last post, their customer service is scond to none.

Safe riding

Dave

Royal Mail – Non Delivery First hand Experience

As you may have read in my last post I ordered a set of Mid Layer Thermals from Sub Zero in Leicester who are only about 38 miles from me. They sent the package by 1st Class Registered Mail on the 3rd December but they never arrived. Interestingly Chris from Northampton Motorcycle Couriers also ordered some of these just after me, his arrived a few days later.

I rang Sub Zero and they requested me to check at the local Post Office to see if the package was there, it wasn’t. So I spoke to them again and they senty me another set out, but this time I requested they be sent out on Special Delivery which they did, the package arrived the very next day.

So there you have it, the mail system just cannot be relied upon in this way. By paying for the Special Delivery I actually got my items, but you would have thought that by being sent registered they wouldn’t have got lost – but they did.

My advice is if you are getting a valuable item sent to you pay the extra for Special Delivery, or better still use a dedicated courier service and then you definitely get a guaranteed delivery.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Thermal Mid Layer Clothing



Yes it’s getting colder now and at my tender years I am finding that I am feeling the cold more now. I did a run last Monday down to Grays in Essex, the wind was howling and plenty of rain to boot and I found once I had got cold I just couldn’t get warm again.

With this in mind I felt it was time to research some warmer mid layer clothing, the layer that goes between the base layer and the Gortex outer clothing.

I spent almost a day researching this, having looked at the Oxford Chillout range and the EDZ range but I the end I elected for the Sub Zero gear. I read various reviews about this clothing including a very in depth one at Web Bike World which can be read here:

http://www.webbikeworld.com/r3/motorcycle-underwear/sub-zero-thermal/



On further routing around on Sub Zero’s site I can across a special offer for this gear saving me £20 so I went for that, I don’t know how long this offer is valid for, but here is the link:

http://www.subzerostore.co.uk/special-offers/factor-2-zip-turtle-bloo-john-pack-save-20

Now I am looking forward to this thermal mid layer clothing arriving so I can try it out on the bike, I will report back after a few uses and let you know how it goes.

Cheers

Safe Riding

Dave

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Short Notice Same Day to Paris

Yesterday we did a short notice same day delivery to Paris, quite simple you might think, a quick run down to the Channel Tunnel and then zip down to Paris, fine but let’s just take a step back for a moment and consider this weeks weather conditions, lot’s of high winds which do not make riding fun. We took a look at the weather in France and decided on safety grounds to travel by a different method.

So this is how we did it, took the bike to the pick up point for 08:30AM, then rode down to a secure car park on Pratt Street in London. At the car park I stowed the riding gear on the bike and got changed into different clothes. Next a short walk, about 15 minutes to the Eurostar station at St Pancras, hopped on the 11AM departure for Paris. At Paris we had prearranged a driver and car to take me to the delivery point, the package was delivered at 3PM local time and the client was chuffed.

The other good point about doing this trip in this manner was that I didn’t need to stay overnight in Paris, I took the 17:00 back to London and was home by 21:00.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Prospective Motorcycle Couriers

Over the last couple of years I have had many people contacting me to ask for employment as a motorcycle courier or to ask me how to become a motorcycle courier. Initially I was able to reply to everyone personally but as time has gone by I have become busier and am unable to do this on every occasion now. I am not happy about this because I am not an ignorant person so I have decided to put a few pointers together which might answer some of the more common questions. Not all active motorcycle couriers will agree with me but this is based on my own experiences in the business.

So first of all, do I have any jobs or vacancies for motorcycle couriers, sadly no I don’t because the flow of work is not steady enough to be able to guarantee employment for another courier. Some weeks are very busy, other are very quiet, it’s impossible to predict from one week to the next. Having said this, I do work with other motorcycle couriers by passing jobs on or recommending other couriers to clients who contact me. This can happen for any number of reasons for example, I may already be booked on another job, the geographic location of the pick up which may be so far away that my quote would not be competitive. However, I have my own standards and one of those states that any rider who I give work to must be properly insured and this must include goods in transit insurance to at least £10,000.

Our record over the three and half years of operation is 100%, no missed deadlines ever and we have never let a client down for any reason, we are proud of this and would not do anything to spoil it, reputation goes a long way in this business.

I get many request from guys telling me they have xyz bike and would like to earn some beer money at the weekends by doing courier work, I am sorry I won’t entertain this simply because there are many guys out there riding in all weathers at all times of the day and night trying to make a decent living. This is not a hobby or part time job, it requires a high level of dedication and commitment to do it properly. I would rather see the work go to these guys because it’s their full time occupation.

For those looking for part time work I would suggest you contact your local courier companies and investigate the prospects of them taking you on their books as a subbie.

I also hear from people who think this a very glamorous way to earn a living, yes it’s great doing what you enjoy, riding your bike but let’s take a reality check for a moment. If you are a pleasure rider you get to choose when you are going out on the bike and this may not involve getting up at 4AMfor a 5AM pick up or even riding 500 miles in freezing cold and pouring rain, well this is what full time couriers do on a regular basis dayin and day out and at times it’s not fun believe me!

For those who are really serious about making this their profession I wrote a couple posts a while ago on this blog which would be of interest:

You want to be a motorcycle courier

Being a subbie

I will help anyone I can as long as they are serious about making this their full time job, weekend warriors, sorry I can’t help you, go and check out the prospect of becoming a subbie.
Talk to any full time motorcycle courier, you will soon find they are passionate about what they do, yes we all love the riding aspect of the job but delve a little deeper and you will soon learn that there is a dedication to the client which is more important than just riding the bike on sunny summer’s day.

If I have offended anyone with what I have written here I am not sorry, I prefer to tell it as it is and not create illusions for anyone, this is hard work that demands a very high level of dedication and tenacity to see each and every job through to a successful conclusion.

Best regards

Dave

Saturday, 3 October 2009

International Shipments

Recently we were requested to collect a UK inbound shipment of data from a shipping agent at Heathrow airport, we were provided with the correct documentation by the shipper abroad. We then just had to go and collect the shipment from the Heathrow based agent and then carry the shipment onto the recipient.

This was all carried out without a problem and both the sender and recipient were very happy with the service and we did provide the most cost effective solution even though we had to travel some distance to get to Heathrow in the first place.

This service could be provided at all UK airports to ensure secure onwards delivery once your item gets into the UK.

Similarly, the service can work in the reverse for shipments going abroad from the UK. We can collect your item and deliver it to your chosen shipping agent for onward transmission abroad, however, we do not arrange the International shipping part of the job, unless we are delivering it personally ourselves meaning we hand carry it to the ultimate destination.

Regardless of which way the item is going you will always receive a telephone call to confirm delivery and a copy of the signed proof of delivery document.

For any of the above services to work we do need the correct paperwork to be sent to us by e-mail.

We do offer a same day service to many areas within Western Europe provided the collection time allows it, we use the Eurotunnel service as the fastest method of getting across to the Continent.

If you find yourself needing such a shipment please do get in touch for a quotation, you may be pleasantly surprised especially when you consider that you would be getting a dedicated motorcycle courier service.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Back on the road again

Well I am pleased to announce I am back on the road again after a long 2 month layoff while the collar bone healed and yes, it’s good to be back.

This week so far, I have had two motorcycle courier jobs, one to London and one to Cambridge and the replacement bike “Amethyst” (because she is purple) is running just fine.

Over the last two months my friend Chris from Northampton Motorcycle Couriers has been covering my work for me and he has been kept quite busy. There have been a number of new clients making use of our service and many return clients coming back to us as well. The best thing is that I have not had to say NO to a client once in this period of recuperation so a big thanks to Chris, you have done absolutely sterling job.

Being back on the road again has also given me a chance to gauge how other road users perceive the new BikeVis lights that I fitted. I have purposely been riding with the headlight off during the day and I am happy to report that other road users seem to be more ware of my presence than they were before when I only had the head lamp on. This maybe because the BikeVis lights showing a more concentrated and focused light and because of the fitment, an unusual pattern of light as well as opposed to the not so bright light produced by the headlight during day light, so the BikeVis lights get a big thumbs up from me.

If you are interested in a set of these for your bike, you can get them at a slight discount through this link:

http://www.bikevis.com/ridetheworld.html


Anyway, as I said it’s good to be back.

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Postal Delays

It is becoming increasing apparent the present disruption to the Royal Mail postal services is causing businesses increasing headaches. Important documents are getting caught up in the huge backlog at the sorting offices which means long delays in deliveries.

SDSA Motorcycle Couriers can help alleviate this problem by offering our dedicated document delivery services throughout the UK and if you need the document signed and returned to you on the same day we can provide this service to you.

Of course this service is not only for documents, it is available for anything that needs a guaranteed same day delivery with a signed proof of delivery.

Because our service is dedicated, you run zero risk of your items becoming lost or delayed.

The service described would be best for businesses in the Greater Peterborough area, but we will happily travel further if required.

Ready For work Again From Monday 21st September 2009

I had my X-ray on the broken collar bone last Monday and I happy to report that it is fully healed, so I am ready for work again.

As you may have already read on the blog in a previous post, the bike is fully prepared and ready for the road.

Tomorrow I will arrange my goods in transit cover with my insurance broker so everything will be in place for next Monday.

Also as a footnote, a big thank you to Chris of Northampton Motorcycle Couriers, Chris has been kept busy for the last two months covering my work for me while I have been recovering from the accident.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

BikeVis Light

This is just a quick post to show where I decided to fit the BikeVis lights on my ST1100, I will try and get a better picture of them switched on when I learn how to take low light level photo's without the flash, anyway here you go:


As you can see I have mounted them so as to designate the extremities of the bike which I think should help in the grand scheme of things.

This isn't a very good picture of them working, will do better next time, I guess having white garage doors doesn't help either! However, I honestly can say they are extremely bright and will certainly get you noticed on the brightest of days, at night they will be simply unmissable.


Here is a much better picture, taken before the sun rose enough to shine into the garage:



If you are looking to get some of these lights you can get a small discount through this link:

http://www.bikevis.com/ridetheworld.html

I am in a bit of a rush right now (need food - it's dinner time) but I will post a follow up of how I fitted them in due course.

Best regards and safe riding

Dave

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Getting ready for work again

It’s been a long lay off since I had the accident back in July but now the collar bone is well and truly on the mend and I am looking forward to the x-ray next week to confirm that it’s healed.

I have spent my time doing other work on our various Motorhome rental web sites, so I have been busy and also keeping Chris over at Northampton Motorcycle couriers busy as he has been covering my work for me, thanks Chris.

Anyway, the last two days have been spent preparing the bike for the return to work later this month.

The Starcom audio system is now wired in, the GPS is mounted and I have fitted new Bike Vis daytime lights as well to enhance my profile while on the road.

My Gortex suit should be back anytime soon after being repaired so all that remains now is a positive result from the x-ray and to get the microphone and earphones fitted in the new helmet and we will be all set.

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Another Insurance Realisation

I recently wrote a post about understanding your motorcycle insurance, well a few further things have come to light.

The first being that I had to replace the helmet and get the gortex suit repaired, neither of these are covered by the insurance. I got advice from my broker and it seems that items like these are considered be accessories or personal items and as such are not covered. I was advised to speak to my house insurance provider which I did and they confirmed that as they are personal items they would be covered as long as you have this in your policy.

The other scenario that came to mind during these conversations was personal items such as helmet, gloves, GPS etc. that are locked in your panniers or Givi box whilst you are in a clients premises picking up or dropping off or taking a break at a service area.

Now were would you be if some kind person broke into your Givi box or panniers and stole the contents, clearly your motorcycle insurance wouldn’t cover you and you would really have problems to find your helmet missing as you wouldn’t be able to legally ride anywhere!

The solution for me was to ensure that my house insurance covered me for these personal items and I also increased the cover level as well.

Just food for thought, it’s easy to take things for granted but you simply can’t afford to, check and make sure and if you haven’t got the cover get it arranged.

In fact you need to cover anything that didn't come on the bike as standard, in addition to the items already mentioned, take into account gloves, boots and any other accessories that could either be stolen or damaged in a crash.

Safe riding

Dave

Bespoke Motorcycle Wiring

I am currently getting things prepared for the last week in August, when hopefully my collar bone will be fully healed and I can get all the accessories fitted onto the new bike.

Jobs to be done include fitting the GIVI rack, the Bike Viz light and the Starcom system, relocate the 12V supply for the GPS from the right hand pocket cover to inside the left hand fairing pocket. I am also still thinking about where to locate the RAM mounts for the GPS. Currently it’s fitted to right hand reservoir clamp but I am not 100% sure about this because it means the audio output socket on the GPS will very exposed to direct rain, this requires some more thought.

Oh almost forgot, also have to fit the charging cable for Optimate as well, again I need to find a convenient place for the connector to be easily accessible without having to take the seat off. I might extend this cable and bring the charger plug into the left hand fairing pocket as well where it will be easily accessible and also protected from the elements.

Now going back to the Bike Viz lights and the Starcom, notably the Bluetooth adaptor, I need to wire these direct from the battery but also need them to be switched independently of the ignition key. I hunted round on E-bay for a waterproof rocker switch and found one, then I started looking at extra cable, crimps and crimp tool to get this new wiring assembly made.

I soon realized that I would have to buy a lot more crimps than I actually needed because of minimum quantities supplied, also I would need to buy a crimping tool and the costs started to add up.

So I contacted Greg via E-bay, the switch supplier to ask him if he could make up this assembly for me from a drawing, you know what, it was completed within half an hour of agreeing the price. I expect it arrive this morning so the whole job from initial discussion to delivery took less than 24 hours, now that’s what I call service.

If you ever find yourself in need of a bespoke wiring solution for your bike I can highly recommend you contact Greg through his web site for a no fuss service. You can find his web site here:

http://www.northerncountiesmcc.com/

You will also find lot's of other useful bits and bobs on his site, well worth a visit.

Anyaway that's about it for now, time for a cuppa.

Ride safe

Dave

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Schuberth C2 Helmet

Yes I know I had a few small moans about the Schuberth C2 a little while ago on this blog but I take it all back.

You can read all kinds of reviews and stats about helmets but the truth of the matter is that you never really know if it's up to the mark until you really need it.

Well I can now honestly recommend this helmet through experience, despite being more than 3 years old, having been used for over 50,000 miles in all that the British and European weather could throw at it, it performed superbly when needed, the pictures below speak for themselves. When I got up after this prang I remembered reading about people who's flip tops had got stuck after a spill and wouldn't open, well this one did open with no problems, I didn't even have a headache after this smash!




I have now replaced it with another Schuberth, the C3 this time that has a pinlock fitted so that should stop the visor misting problems that I used to get.

Yes Schuberth are probably at the higher end of the helmets available, but what price do you put on your own head?

Thank you Schuberth, your helmet engineering probably saved my life.

Safe riding

Dave

Make Sure You Understand Your Motorcycle Insurance

I was recently involved in accident on the M62 which required both myself and the bike to be recovered back to my home.

I called the AA from the hard shoulder of the M62 to request recovery, thinking that they would take me all the way home but that was not the case.

Because this incident was an accident and not a breakdown the AA would only recover off the motorway as required by law, fortunately they took me about a mile up the road to the Hartshead Moor Services.

Whilst I was waiting for the AA to arrive I called my insurance broker to see if I was covered by my insurance in this event, fortunately I was and a recovery vehicle arrived at the services within half an hour and we were on our way.

I learnt a lesson on that day, that is why I say make sure you understand your insurance and what cover it provides. Yes I was surprised at the AA's stance with regard to accidents versus breakdowns but very relieved to learn that my fully comprehensive cover through Norwich Union, now Aviva were able to look after me.

In fact Norwich Union's support and actions after this event could not have been improved upon in anyway, they were superb and kept me up to date by text and phone at regular intervals so I won't be going anywhere else for my insurance in future.

If you would like to discuss your motorcycle insurance needs I highly recommend you give Kev a call at Coversure on 01780 765555 before you go buying on-line where excesses don't seem to be revealed that well or any hidden clauses. Yes you may get a cheaper price on-line but when it comes to a crunch you may not actually have the insurance you thought you had.

Best regards and safe riding

Dave

Daytime Visibility Front Lights

I have been researching daytime visibility lights for ST100 for sometime now and have finally found a product that I feel will do the job.

My criteria was that they should be small, easily fixed on the bike and draw very little electrical current and be relatively inexpensive.

The product I finally decided on is British made (a rare thing these days) and they are known as "BikeVis".

Basically they are high output LED's fitted in a small weather resistant pod that can be fitted virtually anywhere on a motorcycle to increase other road users of your presence.

I have a couple of pairs on order now and they will get fitted once my collar bone break has healed. Once I have them fitted I will take some pictures of the bike in daylight so you can see how they can increase your visibility.

If you would like more information on these BikeViz lights you can find them through this link:

http://www.bikevis.com/ridetheworld.html

Safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The No To Bike Parking Charges Campaign - Latest

For anyone who rides a motorcycle or scooter in London, this should be of interest to you as you could soon be forced to pay for parking your two wheeler in London.

There have been many peaceful demonstration's by motorcyclist's recently against this charge, but now the campaign has reached a new level and the organisers are trying to raise the funds to launch a judicial review, please visit their web site to learn more and lend your support in any way you can:

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com/


If this parking charge is successfully launched in London it will not be long before it spreads throughout the UK and you will have to pay parking charges everywhere.

As a motorcycle courier who regularly delivers to address in London, parking for a maximum of 5 minutes each time, I do not want to have to pay a parking charge just for trying to earn an honest living.

Thanks for reading

Dave

Long Ride Yesterday

I had a long courier ride yesterday to Glasgow some 620 miles in all. The ride itself went very well and the wather was kind to me - no rain. I set off at 7AM and arrived in Glasgow at about 11:45 with one fuel stop along the way and got home around 5:45PM.

Now there is nothing exciting in the above but there are two other things I wanted to mention:

The first being the massive variations in fuel prices in the country. I filled up at our local BP garage the evening before this ride and paid £1.03 per litre, en-route I filled up at the Southwaite services on the M6 in Cumbria and paid a whopping £1.08 per litre, this is some difference equating to a difference of £1.05 for a full fill up of 21 litres, could have paid one days London parking fee with that :-)

The second reason is that the route took me along the M74 through Lockerbie, I was last there in December 1988 as part of the team of service people looking for passenger remains and aircraft wreckage after Pan Am 103 was bombed out of the sky on 21 December 1998, it's sent a real chill up my spine.

Anyway safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Same Day Motorcycle Courier to Europe

I have just posted a new web page detailing our dedicated same day confidential motorcycle courier service to mainland Europe, it's not a new service as we have been doing same day deliveries to Amsterdam for a while.

However, I thought it was time to let potential clients know that this is a service we can and do offer already.

I have given a few examples of the services we provide on the new page, but as each job is unique we encourage new clients to make contact to discuss their requirements so that we can create a bespoke quotation for them based upon their needs.

If a dedicated same day motorcycle courier service is of interest please visit our new Same Day Confidential Motorcycle Courier Service to Mainland Europe web page.

Best regards

Dave

We Have De-Registered For VAT

SDSA Motorcycle Couriers became a VAT de-registered business on 1st July 2009 which means that we have been able to lower our courier rates for all of our customers which has to be good news.

Our new prices are now very easy to understand and are explained in full at our rates and costs for couriers services page, on this page you will also find worked examples.

I would like to reassure you that even though our prices have come down our high levels of service have not been compromised in any way at all. The level of security and dedication to your job is and always will be of paramount importance to us.

We have also introduced a new pricing structure for courier jobs into mainland Europe, they are slightly higher than the UK domestic rates simply because fuel and accommodation is more expensive in Europe. Eurotunnel crossings will be charged at the prevailing Eurotunnel cost on the day of booking the job because we have no control over this.

You can find full details of the mainland Europe courier rates and and costs page, on this page you will also find worked examples.

That's all for now.

Dave

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Bike Parking Fees Demo - Reminder

Yes tomorrow is July the 1st, the day of the big demo in London that I spoke of in an earlier post.

If you are a motorcycle rider and you don't agree with parking charges for bikes then your voice needs to be heard, just got to the campaign web site:

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com

to get the latest information and the latest campaign video can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapTAX4sRDk

Safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Thankyou Motad

I was on a job down to South London last Thursday, cruising down the A1 when the bike started to sound a bit like a Harley, not the right sound for an ST1100.

So I pulled over to see what was wrong and I discovered that the right silencer had become loose where it goes into the collector box, so out cane the tools and I attempted to tighten the clamp but it had no effect.

Well I was loaded with a clients job so I had to press on and get the job done.

Friday morning I set about this silencer problem, didn't take long to find out what was wrong, the silencer pipe itself had rotted where it goes into the collector box.

Now I had to get a new silencer fast because I have another job booked for Monday morning, so I called Motad, told them what I wanted and they were very helpful, the silencers arrived this morning (Saturday).

The whole exhaust system was changed on the bike about 45,000 miles ago and as the bike is used in all wheather I think the exhausts have lasted really well. Yes I prolonged the life of the silencers I think by painting them every 6 months with Hammerite, but yes they have served me well.

So yes, a big thanks to the guys at MOTAD for a very fast and friendly service, if you need to replace your exhaust at all you do well to check out their web site at:

http://www.motad.co.uk/

Safe riding

Dave

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Motorcycle Parking Charges

Yep, motorcycle parking charges will soon be a reality if Westminster Council have their way and if they win this concept could spread throughout the country.

This will play havoc for motorcycle couriers when they only park for a few minutes when they are either picking up or dropping off.

I politely would like to request you to show your annoyance at this parking charge for bikes by going to:

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com

And register and then fill out the form to register your objection. If you are in or around London on July 1st there is a demo bike ride to campaign against this parking fee.

Please visit the site above and register, it affects the future of motorcycle and scooter riders.

Safe riding

Dave

Been A Bit Warm In London

Did a trip down to Tooting in London yesterday and it was a bit warm to say the least especially in the slow moving traffic.

Traffic was worst in the Hangar Lane area where they are replacing a bridge - I think.

Today I had a last minute trip down to Heathrow to collect some raw film from Julia and Kevin Sanders of Globebusters fame. Learn more about these guys here: http://www.globebusters.com

I noticed when I went through the roadworks on the M25 that there is a nasty gouge in the outside lane going towards Heathrow. Car drivers most probably don't feel but my front wheel did, something to watch out for.

Safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Thanks Amanda and Nat

I exhibited at a Trade Show yesterday at the Orton Hall Hotel in Peterborough. It was organised by a good friend of mine, Amanda Carlin. The show itself was very well organised, there were various business related talks throughout the day and Amanda had even provided refreshments and a buffet lunch, so I would just like to say a big thank you to Amanda - well done.

If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you will know that I did mention that I would be at this show in a previous post. I am glad I did, in the early afternoon a chap turned up looking for me, he wanted to have a chat about becoming a motorcycle courier.

His name is Nat and he had ridden all the way from Folkstone, some 180 miles, to have a chat with me about how to get started. We did have a good chat about this and he also got the opportunity to have a chat with the Business Link exhibitor at the show and to sit in in his talk.

This surprise visit really made my day, it's always good to be able to help people where you can.

Best regards and ride safe

Dave

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Allways Keep A Close Eye On Your Tyres

Motorcycle tyres: you only have two of them, your life depends on them, unlike a car which may weave a bit when you get a puncture, when a bike tyre goes the likelihood is you come off!

Even though my tyres are due to be changed next Monday, I was giving the bike a check over this afternoon and found a really nasty split in my front tyre, see the photo below, the split goes about 3mm deep and is about an inch long. So its being changed first thing tomorrow morning.




I dread to think what the consequences could have been if the tyre had decided to shred because of this split, imagine this happening when you are on the really sharp bends of the slip road that brings you off the M11 onto the M25, enough said! Just keep a close eye on your tyres folks it could save your life.

Safe riding

Dave

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Planned Maintenance Day

We have a planned maintenance day for the motorcycle on 22nd June when it will have its regular 4000mile service, new front and rear tyres fitted plus a new back brake disc and pads.

The last 4000 mile service was carried out on the 9th of May 09, so we are racking up the miles at a fast rate now, including the next service it will mean the bike has been serviced 3 times this year so far.

Total mileage since the last MOT carried out on 15th January 09 the bike has covered 10,768 miles to date, for those of your reading that use kilometres that’s approximately 17,228 KM.

The back tyre was fitted in early February 09 so it has given me almost 10,000 miles which is about right. On the subject of tyres I swear by the Bridgestone Exedra G547 on the front and the G548 on the rear. I believe that this is the standard OEM fit on the ST1100, these tyres perform well in all conditions and I am very happy with them. I find that the front tyre last approximately twice as long as the rear.

The next service after this next one will have the bike off the road for a few days as the cam belt will have to be changed as per Honda’s recommendation at approximately 90,000 miles which is a big job.

I have the bike serviced by Les Kirby of LK Motors in Stamford, his knowledge of the ST1100 is second to none and he provides a really good service at a good price. If you live in or around the Stamford area and would like to get in touch with Les, make a comment and I will give you his number.

I know some ST1100 owners advocate having their bikes serviced at longer periods, some have said every 8000 miles, but personally I believe in going by the manufacturer’s guidance of every 4000 miles and I am sure this is why the bike has never ever let me down in any way.

I guess it’s different when you rely on a motorcycle for your business rather than using it for pleasure, I simply cannot afford to break down because it would mean I would have let a client down which simply is not acceptable. Plus, by maintaining the bike properly you know that your safety is assured.

Anyway safe riding one and all.


Cheers

Dave

May Wasn’t Quite As Busy April

May wasn’t quite as busy as April but it was still a good month for courier work, there were 8 jobs in total which put another 2208 miles on the bike.

Again it was mostly work into London but there were a few variations thankfully.

I did have one long job which involved a pick up in Lincoln then 3 drops in Birmingham, Southampton and London with another job booked for the following morning from Cambridge to London.

Chris from Northampton Motorcycle Couriers did the Birmingham leg for me, we met at the A1/A14 services and then he went west and I went south.

The weather for this particular day was reported as being very high winds and torrential rain in the south, but as I approached the M3 around 6PM the winds died down and the sky cleared, guess I got lucky.

Now in order to be able to make the pick up the next morning in Cambridge I elected to stay at the Welcome Break at Birchhanger Green services rather than riding all the way back up to Stamford, this saved me about 120 miles. I think I arrived at the Welcome Break about midnight, it was wise decision to do this and I have to thank Shalini, my wife for the idea.

Then I was on the road again next morning to pick up from Cambridge.

This just goes to show that when you run a courier service you have to be flexible and sometimes eat into your profit a little so that you don’t become unsafe through being too exhausted.

Anyway lets see how June turns out.

Cheers

Dave

Traffic Carnage in London

I did a run down to Oxford Street in London yesterday morning, straight down the A1 from Stamford.

I thought I would allow more time for this trip because the London Underground
has a 2 day strike planned which would mean more cars on the road.

I made the outskirts of London in good time and began to wonder if I was going to arrive too early. Then a little further on it all started to back up around Hendon and the Finchley road was just carnage. I shouldn’t wonder if many car and lorry drivers will be getting fines for using the bus lanes as there were more of those vehicles in the bus lanes than the permitted vehicles.

At around this point the heavens opened and it really rained very hard. Once I got onto Baker Street the traffic got better, then turned onto Oxford Street and it was just wall to wall buses. I only had about 0.2 miles to go along Oxford Street but it took 15 minutes, but because I had allowed extra time for the trip I still made the pick up 5 minutes early.

Getting out of London wasn’t too bad at all, although it was all still clogged up going into central London.

The rain persisted and it followed me all the way back to Stamford.

But the job got done within the promised time frame and the client was happy which is what matters.

Just as a footnote, new road works have appeared on the A1M at Hatfield Tunnel, a lane has been lost on each side and the speed limit is 40MPH, the sign states that the works will last until sometime in 2010, I think this will become a real bottle neck at peak periods and would be a good place to avoid if possible.

Cheers

Dave

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Quick Run To Mainland Europe

Today I had a pick up at 8AM in Tilburg in the Netherlands for delivery to a facility just outside of Cambridge as quickly as possible.

First question was how do I get to Tilburg for 8AM. The solution was travel over on the previous afternoon and stay the night in Tilburg.

I set off at about 1PM from home and made the Eurotunnel in good time and boarded a crossing earlier than the one I had booked. The crossing, as always was uneventful, I usually spend this time by changing the clocks on the bike, GPS and wrist watch and also swap the memory cards in the GPS so that I have the European maps loaded. Then I munch a sandwich or two and have a cuppa from my flask and then it’s usually time to get the gear back on.

As we arrived at Calais, I took a peek out of the window, wish I hadn’t, it was pouring – why does it always rain whenever I go to Europe on a courier job?

Anyway despite the rain I made good progress and arrived at the Tilburg hotel in good time.

I left the hotel at about 7:30AM to go and pick up the package and headed south towards the Eurotunnel at Calais. Surprisingly most of this trip was dry until I got to Ostend, then it rained almost until I got to Calais.

Again I made good time so got booked onto an earlier crossing, then it was onto French Customs, they waived all the cars ahead of me through but pulled me into their checking building. They checked everywhere on the bike, the top box, the panniers, both fairing side pockets and under the seat, they even unzipped the cover on my Air Hawk saddle cushion, they were amazed by this as they had never seen one before. After a thorough check they let me carry on. They were just doing their job which is an important one, but I thought it worth mentioning because this has never happened to me before.

First job after getting off the shuttle was to fill up the tank, fuel is getting really expensive over in Europe, in Belgium I paid Euro 1.35 per litre at today's exchange rate this equates to £1.16 per litre, in Holland it was as high as Euro 1.45 at today's exchange rate this equates to £1.25 per litre, so if you are going across be warned – it ain’t cheap over there.

I always buy Euro's at Thomas Cooks now and carry enough to cover all forseen expenses, the credit card is kept as a backup for emergency use only. Why? Well the credit card companies give you lousy exchange rates and furthermore they charge an extra percentage for foreign puchases, I know HSBC charge 2.99% which is downright rip off!

I recall that on my previous trip to Holland, I filled the tank up in the UK which cost £18.00 and a comparable fill up on the continent cost £27.00 taking into account the cost of the fuel over there, the exchange rate, oh and not forgetting the banks slice of 2.99%

Now it just remained to bang on up the M20, M25 and M11 to the drop off in Cambridge.

All in the entire job went well and I was home again just after 2PM today after covering a total of 706 miles.

Here is the route I took:



Safe riding

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Starcom Bluetooth Adaptor

This is a follow up to my previous post regarding motorcycle communications. When I wrote the last post I was waiting for the Starcom Bluetooth adaptor to arrive.

It arrived a few days after I made the order, well packaged and by courier. The first job was to provide a live electrical feed which is switched, so we took a feed off the right hand handlebar switch cluster.

The next job was to get the module and the phone paired, two second job, anyone could do it.

Now for the acid test, unfortunately it failed, the phone would auto answer in hands free mode and I could hear the caller but sadly the caller could not hear me.

So I refitted the hands free cable and connected it to the phone and everything worked as it should, so I called Starcom.

They requested me to send the module back and they sent me a replacement by return.

Have just put it all back together and it worked fine in the garage, will test it again this afternoon during a run down to Oxford Street in London.

Here is a picture of the whole Starcom system fitted into the right hand fairing pocket on my ST1100, the bluetooth module is small box on the left:



If you are interested in learning more about the Starcom system have a look at the links in my previous post.

Safe riding

Dave

Friday, 1 May 2009

An Invite To Come And Meet Me

I will be exhibiting at two business to business trade shows in the coming months, one in Grantham in Lincolnshire and the other in Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

The first will be on 20th May between noon and 7pm in Grantham at:

The Meres Leisure Centre
Trent Road
Grantham
NG31 7XQ

Website: http://forms.southkesteven.gov.uk/EconomicDevelopment/PublishedPages/Business2Businessevent.aspx

The second will be in Peterborough on 19th June and is an all day event:

It is being held in the Orton Hall hotel in Peterborough.

Maybe see you there!

Onboard Motorcycle Communications

My motorcycle is fitted with 3 sources of audio input that all need to be routed into the helmet. The inputs are music from my Sony Mini Disc player, spoken instructions from the GPS and incoming calls from the mobile.

Each has a level of priority, the music is on all of the time, but if the GPS speaks then I want to be able to hear that over the music, if I have an incoming call I need it to take priority over everything else and it also need to be answered in hands free mode.

So how did I overcome this problem? After much research on the net, I found a company called Tecstar who produce the Starcom unit which seemed to meet all of my needs in one little box which could be easily stowed away in lockable fairing compartment on the Pan.

This little box has been in service for over two and half years now without any problems at all, it’s in use all of the time when I am out on jobs and keep in mind that I do ride all year round, but the Starcom has never let me down.

I also installed their option volume control which simply fits on the handle bars, it’s more useful than I ever thought it would be.

The only area that I have had issues with is the hands free connector on the bottom of my Nokia 6310i phone, it becomes disconnected if I go over a bump and then I don’t know there may have been calls made to me. I have tried all sorts of ways to make this connection more secure but not have been completely satisfactory. So, I have just ordered Tecstar's blue tooth adaptor which will overcome the problem I have described. It also means that the phone will no longer be mounted in the fairing compartment on the bike anymore, it will be in my jacket inside pocket from now on. Meaning that I can never forget to carry the phone with me when I leave the bile to make a delivery.

Here is a photo, showing where everything is fitted including the wto connectors, one for the helmet speakers and mike and the other for the mini disc input:



I am not affiliated with Tecstar or Starcom in any way at all but I believe in giving credit where credit is due, the system does everything that I require of it, it’s robust and reliable and reasonably priced and the friendly professional staff at the other end of the phone are a most welcome change in this “call centre” cultured world we find ourselves in.

I have listed below the sources of the Starcom equipment I use:

The Starcom Advance Box http://www.starcom1.com/therange.htm

The Bluetooth Adaptor http://www.starcom1.com/bluetooth.htm

The Volume Control http://www.starcom1.com/volume.htm

April Was A Busy Month

Well April was one of my busiest months on record since I started my motorcycle courier service, I covered just short of 3000 miles spread between 13 jobs. One of these jobs was subbed out to Chris of Northampton Motorcycle Couriers because I was already on a job and couldn’t meet the deadlines because of distance and time factors.

The vast majority of the work has been into either central or south London starting from locations that are wide and varied.

Fortunately April hasn’t been too wet so riding conditions have been pretty good on the whole. It was only last Monday, 27th April that we had really heavy rain that lasted all day.

One of the problems of motorcycle riding is keeping your hands dry especially on long runs, the reason being that whenever you stop and remove your gloves your hands get wet, then you out your gloves on again and you make the inside of the gloves wet. This is why I always carry at least one spare set of gloves all the time.

May is starting to look good already with 2 jobs booked for the first week and then a really big one for the second week which should be around 550 miles and mostly night riding.

I have been trying to work out why April has been so good and I can only think that businesses are finding it more economically viable to employ a motorcycle courier on an ad hoc per job basis rather than employing a person full time.

The bike is also booked in for another 4000 mile service on 9th May, the last one was on completed on 14th March so I guess I will have to start thinking about tyres soon as well.

Historically, going back 30 or 40 years or so the motorcycle was seen as the most economical form of transport and yes, this was true when I think back. The bikes didn’t cost anywhere near as much as they do now, running costs and insurances were much cheaper and you could service the bike yourself. But over the last 15 years, motorcycles have evolved into a totally new beast, yes they still have 2 wheels but the technical advances have put home servicing beyond most average people. As the motorcycles have become more powerful the tyres have had evolve to cope with higher power, hence, they have become a lot more expensive. I pay an average of £150 for a back tyre which might last about 10,000 miles if I am lucky.

Well that’s it for this instalment

Whoever you are and wherever you might be in the world

Ride safe and live to ride another day

Dave

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Comparison Of Costs For London Outbound Motorcycle Courier Jobs

It appears that London based motorcycle courier services offer quite high prices for work that involves travelling any sort of distance north of London. I can’t quite figure out why this is but can only guess that it is more lucrative for them to operate within London which would allow them to fit in more jobs in a given working day.

We believe that even though we are about 100 miles north of the City we can offer competitive prices for London outbound work, especially if it’s coming north.

This service would work for same day deliveries as long as sufficient time is allowed for us to get to London to pick up the item. For example in you had an item for same day delivery to say Newcastle, it would have to be picked up by 12 noon in order to arrive by close of the working day at 5pm.

So let’s do an example costing of a job like this, basing it on a pick up in the City and delivering to Newcastle:

The total for this job would be approximately £387.25 including VAT. Of course this would be depend on exact post codes, but shouldn’t vary too much.

In order to make a comparison I first obtained a quote off the internet for a well known London based courier firm for an identical job on a motorcycle, their published on-line quote:

£898.26 plus VAT making it £1032 including VAT

We then also contacted four other London based motorcycle courier companies and requested identical quotes for a dedicated motorcycle courier to do this job, the prices came out as follows:

£733.16 including VAT
£734.36 including VAT
£430.10 including VAT
£430.73 including VAT

So as you can see, we can offer the same service for a considerable saving on your part. I can only think that this is because we operate nationwide as our normal method of operation.

In order for this service to work it would be best to book the job in advance, say at least the day before, but certainly by 9AM in this case to guarantee delivery before 5PM.

If you want a quotation for a specific job please call us on 01780 766151

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Only A Dedicated Motorcycle Courier Could Do This

Last Monday I set out on a job at about 07:45 for an 08:30 pick up in Corby.

The first leg of this job was to take a document up to Pudsey in West Yorkshire so that it could be signed, I arrived in Pudsey at about 10:35 and waited for 20 minutes or so for the document to be read and signed. During this time I had a bite to eat and a cuppa.

On the road again, to the final delivery on City Road in London, the delivery was made by about 14:30.

Only a dedicated courier could perform such a job with accuracy and speed, it would not be possible to get this done as quickly with a normal courier service.

Safe riding

Courier Job To Oxford Street

I had a courier job from Cambridge to Oxford Street today, delivery by noon.

I was a little concerned about this one today because of the G20 protest marches, I did do some research on the net before I left this morning to see if my route would be affected at all but it was difficult to find concise details.

Anyway the job had to be done, if ran into any problems I could always park the bike up and jump on the underground, that was my back-up plan!

It was all clear riding right down to Grays Inn Road, Euston Road was free running only stopping for traffic lights, Baker Street was empty as was Oxford street and I arrived 25 minutes early. Fortunately the backload was ready so I did a quick turnround and got on my way.

This must have been the easiest ride into central London that I have ever done, let's see if it's the same tomorrow as I have another trip down to the smoke, this time to the Aldgate area.

Safe riding

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Being A Sub Contractor Courier – Been There

I have twice tried doing sub-contractor work, this is known as subbing or being a subby and both times I gave it up after a few months.

Now let me say that subbing is a great way to get work when you are just starting out because you don’t need to go out and find the clients, you service the requirements of an already established courier company.

It’s also a great way to learn about the diversity of this occupation, yes there is a lot more to it than just delivering things. You will also learn very quickly if this is the life for you but by this time you will have made substantial investments in insurance at least.

As a self employed subby you will be responsible for everything apart from finding clients, this includes providing the motorcycle, maintaining it, ensuring you have the correct insurances including Goods In Transit and of course good riding kit.

Before getting into subbing the very first thing you need to do is establish what it costs you to cover one mile on your bike, take into account all costs including insurance and maintenance. Once you have worked this out you need to put a value to your time as well, time is a commodity that can never be replaced and therefore it does have a value. Ask yourself what you could be making stacking shelves at the local supermarket of flipping fires at McDonalds, you need to be earning substantially more than those occupations offer. By now you have good idea of what all this costs you.

Now you can go out and seek subby work and find out what the offers are for you to work for them, keeping in mind your costs that you have already worked out.

Both of the times I have tried subbing it has lasted for around 3 months, at the end of that period we have done the sums and found that we have effectively been paying for the privilege of working for another courier company.

As an example we found out that the last company we subbed for where charging clients around £1.20 per mile, they were paying us 60 pence per mile, so for a 100 mile run they made £60 and I made £60 less all costs, you simply cannot run a motorcycle for that and make a profit.

As always I will do my best to share my experience for those who are looking at becoming a motorcycle courier, it’s not the easiest of occupations but it is extremely rewarding once you get yourself established.

Safe Riding

Beware Of Disclosing Your Clients Details - Never Do This

On 25th March 2009 I received this innocent looking e-mail:

Dear Dave Austin,

We might be interested in using your services. Please could you provide us with a couple of companies you deal with at the moment, so we can contact them for reference's.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

Best Regards

Lee Price

Lee Price
Accounts Manager
Skyline Despatch Ltd

I looked this company up on the internet and they do have a web site, but I couldn’t find where they were located, although there was a telephone number.

I rang this and got an answer phone message stating “you can’t leave a message” so I replied to the e-mail above inviting them to contact me to discuss this further.

There has been no contact in any shape or form, now the request in the e-mail may be innocent, but I am wary that they may have been hoping that I would forward my clients details so that they could contact them and try to poach them from me.

I would never have revealed the information they we requesting anyway because I see this as a breach of client confidentiality and that is simply not done.

If another courier operator wants to use you for services they should not need references from anyone, so please never ask me for my clients details because you will never get them from me.

Safe Riding

Specialist Courier Service By SDSA Motorcycle Couriers

Although we carry anything on the bike that our clients want us too, as long it’s legal we do offer a very specialist service.

Our main focus is on transporting confidential material and do guarantee a dedicated service.

You may be wondering how we can offer this service in a confidential manner, well first of all we use a totally unmarked motorcycle, the bike has no logos or slogans on it stating that it’s a courier bike, no contact details at all. So to all intents and purposes the guy on the bike could just be commuting to work or riding for the fun of it.

The service is dedicated, yes totally dedicated, when I collect your material for transportation it will be me who deliver’s it on the same day. No one else will handle your item along the route, we do not use depot’s or hubs like many of the larger courier companies.

If I stop along the route for fuel, you item will stay on my person all of the time, even if it was in the secure luggage on the bike, I always keep it on my person if I stop.

I also only work on one client’s job at a time, I never carry more than one client consignment at the same time, that’s why we believe our service is totally dedicated, a service that’s not that easy to find these days.

If you have confidential documents, data media, legal documents or anything else of a sensitive nature that would cause a disaster if were to be lost why not get in touch to discuss your requirements.

We operate our dedicated service throughout the UK and are happy to travel to the pick up point, and remember, our same day deliveries are not just in the UK we have also provided this service to Amsterdam on numerous occasions.

You may be wondering why we don’t use the bike for advertising whilst we are out and about, well this is for the reasons outlined above and also we don’t need to. Our reputation for reliability and confidentiality is getting around by word of mouth that is why our client base is steadily growing.

To find out more about our services please visit our web site: sdsamotorcyclecouriers.co.uk

Safe Riding

Thank You Honda Motorcycles UK

I recently had the bike serviced at 77,000 miles no problems found, but it did use up the last available space in my service record book for the bike.

Wasn’t sure where to get a new one so that subsequent services could be recorded so I gave Honda Motorcycles UK a call on 0845 200 8000.

Explained the situation, they asked a few questions and hey presto a new service record book arrived in the post the next day – free of charge.

As Honda say in one of their Accord ads on the TV:

“Isn’t it nice when things just work”

Safe riding

Vine Street London – Which one?

London has two Vine streets, this caused quite a problem a while back when a courier was subbing for me and he went to the wrong Vine Street through no fault of his own!

I did the same run last Friday and remembered the problems he had experienced.

The problem is that clients publish their address as Vine Street EC3N 2AA which is fine if you are taking things to their post room, but if you taking it to a person in their offices that’s a different story. In this case their offices are on Vine Street but with a different postcode.

I decided to call the recipient before setting out on this job, explained that I had a document to deliver by hand to Mr X and they gave me the correct postcode, the job went off like a breeze.

If I hadn’t made this simple call I would have ended up about 3.5 miles away from where I should have been. Ok, 3.5 miles isn’t much but it’s a long way in central London, and if you aren’t London based with an intimate knowledge of London’s road’s it is a real nightmare.

So the moral of this story is, if you aren’t 100% sure of where you are going it’s worth a 2 minute call to the recipient to check, they won’t mind because they realise it reduces the likelihood of navigation problems and means they get the item quicker.

This is the main reason that I always ask for the recipients contact number when accepting a job, if the sender can’t give me the number a 2 second search on Google normally finds you the number.

Safe Riding

Friday, 13 March 2009

The First Of A Few Modifications To The Bike

Motorcycles are built in the hope that they will fit most shapes and sizes of rider, but let’s face it, it’s impossible to that without some failure in one place or another.

So in this series of posts over the next few weeks I will show the modifications I have done to my ST1100 in order to make it as comfortable and functional as possible as a long distance courier bike.

I will start out with the handle bar modifications.

You may be wondering why I did this, well I was experiencing quite a lot of strain on my wrists and lower back after more than 100 miles.

I started out by working how much higher I wanted the bars to be in order to put me in a more upright riding position. Bar risers were an option but they didn’t offer enough height increase so in the end I opted for a set of Heli Bars. These had to be imported from the USA as I couldn’t find a supplier over here and yes, they were expensive but when you spend as much time in the saddle as I do they soon pay for themselves.

The standard hydraulic hoses were just about long enough to cope with the increased height of the Heli Bars. We also had to careful when deciding on the final set up so that the brake lever didn’t foul on the upper fairing when full left lock was applied.

Verdict, I have ridden over 30,000 miles with these bars fitted and I have never once experienced the strain I used to get in my wrists and lower back, even on a long run of 500 miles.

The Heli Bars were imported from the manufacturers at http://www.helibars.com and used the ST1100 MTS kit (95 – 02).

I have just noticed that they are also available from http://www.bykebitz.co.uk/acatalog/Honda_Helibars.html , just scroll down the page a bit.

Picture of the original bars fitted:


Picture with the Heli Bars fitted:

A Day In The Life Of A Motorcycle Courier

I left base at around 09:30 for a pick up about 50 miles away in Cambridgeshire, this was a pre booked job.

Arrived at the pick up, met the new client and had a brief discussion regarding the instructions so everything was clear and understood by both parties.

Set off for the delivery in Abingdon, a speedy and easy journey and made the drop off in good time, got the package signed for, rang the client to let them know the drop had been made and set off back to base.

Stopped for about 20 minutes outside of Oxford to have my sandwiches and tea from my thermos, and then got back on the road again, arrived home about 15:30.

The next job was to get the invoice raised and paperwork done for this job and email it to the client, just about completed this when the phone rang. It was a previous client who I had done work for back in November 07. This time it was rush job to the GMEX in Manchester.

Got the email off to the first client, gulped down a cuppa tea, got the new job details into the GPS, created the POD form and was on my way by 16:00, arrived at the pick up at 17:10 and was then on my way to the GMEX. Arrived at the GMEX at 19:30, beating the deadline with 25 minutes to spare, the recipient was happy and so was the client when I called him.

Set off for home, but missed a sign for M62 Leeds somewhere along the line, so ended up heading towards Barnsley along a winding twisting road through the moors, brilliant riding roads during day light in good weather but not ideal in the pitch darkness of night.

Finally got onto the M1 and stopped at the services at Woodhall and had a bite to eat, and then set off for the final leg home, arrived back at about 23:30.

This day had been a long one, about 14 hours, covering some 550 miles!

This wasn’t a typical day, but demonstrates how flexible you need to be as a self employed motorcycle courier.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

What Is A Dedicated Courier Service

A dedicated courier service is a service that is devoted exclusively to your consignment and no others at the same time.

So what are the advantages of a dedicated courier service?

1. If your consignment is of a really urgent nature you can rest assured that the courier is only working on your job exclusively. Because yours is the only item that is being transported there is no deviation from the route between pick up and delivery. Which means that delivery will be quicker than a conventional courier service.
2. Your consignment is sensitive or confidential in nature, be it printed documents, magnetic media or even DVD’s, because yours is the only package being carried there can be no confusion or chances of losses as there are no depots or hubs to used along the route.

So how can SDSA Motorcycle Couriers help you next time you have urgent delivery requirement?

We only work on same day urgent jobs, we do not do multi drop jobs while carrying for multiple clients at the same time. Our motorcycles are free from any logos or advertising, so no one knows that the motorcycle is a courier bike.

We offer this service nationwide and into Western Europe.

Once we undertake a job for you, you are assured of a truly dedicated service from the point of pick up right though to delivery and to give you peace of mind, we call you immediately after the consignment has been signed for by the recipient to let you know the job has been completed successfully.

All jobs are signed for by the recipient and we can fax you a copy of the “proof of delivery” document just as soon as we get back to base.

So next time you have a panic delivery requirement give SDSA Motorcycle Couriers a call on 01780 766151.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Schuberth C2 Flip Front Helmet

I have used the Schuberth C2 for three years now, it’s the only helmet I use for courier work.

The advantages of a flip front are paramount as far as I am concerned as you can easily stop and ask directions, simply by flipping the front up, no need to remove your helmet. Other advantages are that you stop for a break to have a coffee or a sandwich and again you don’t need to remove it, this great when it’s cold or wet because you can keep the warmth around your head, and also stay dry.

I have also found that it’s a relatively quiet helmet, even at speed on the motorway it is still easy to speak on the hands free which is installed in the helmet.

Comfort, no complaints here, motorcycle couriers most probably wear their helmets for much longer than the average motorcycle rider. I find that even on a long run there are no comfort problems at all even after 6 hours of continual wear.

The only big disadvantage that I have found with this helmet is with fogging of the visor, if it’s cold outside it starts to fog almost straight away, if it’s cold and wet then it’s not good at all, especially when you are faced with 180 miles in driving rain and you have to keep lifting the visor to clear the fog.

On my latest visor I have noticed streaks of “fog” right in the front field of vision, running from top to bottom, initially I though this was water getting inside, but have now realised that this is because the anti fog coating has peeled away.

Recently I contacted Schuberth customer services in Germany to discuss this, there was no argument at all, they simply asked me to fax over the receipt for the last visor I bought and they would send me a replacement.

It arrived a few days later, excellent service but it remains to be seen if this visor has the anti fogging properties that it should.

It is interesting to note that the new version of the C2, named the C3 is supplied with a pinlock visor insert fitted as standard. From everything I have read about the pinlock inserts, they are very good at stopping the visor from fogging.

Having said that, I can’t find anyone, apart from a company in Germany who offer’s C2 visors with a pinlock insert fitted.

But to round off, I feel the Schuberth C2 is an extremely good all round helmet for this type of work and would recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Wild Ride Home Today

Had a courier run today down to south London, for a change it went like a dream. Rather than going straight down to Tooting through Finchley and all the clogged up raods of London, I always go around the M25 then pick up the south circular. Although this is further in terms of miles of is much quicker in time as there is less congestion.

Today for some reason the roads where very quiet and there was only slight drizzle so all in all it was a good run and the job was completed in record time.

I came back the same way and turned off into South Mimms services for a bite to eat, now if you don't already know there is a great place to eat at these services that doesn't rip you off at all.

If you enter the services and carry on past the BP garage on your right you will come to a roundabout, go straight over this roundabout and you will come to another one where you will find a smashing hot dog, burger and bacon butty wagon. If you want good quality food at a price that doesn't eat into your profits then this is place, jumbo hot dog with onions in a crusty french stick £2.20, you would be hard pushed to buy a sandwich in the services shop for that.

Anyway, half way through my nosh the wind really picked up and then the rain followed and it was like this all the way back to Stamford, it was a little hairy by the Black Cat roundabout on the A1 because it's so exposed, I alwasy find it interesting riding at a 20 degree angle and yet still going in a straight line.

70 odd miles later I arrived at Stamford, they have built a new bridge over the A1 which you have cross to get into Stamford, at the top it felt somthing like being on top of a mountain in a force 9 gale, anither bit of road that has been built without any consideration for the wheeled traveller.

Well that's me for the day but one bit of good news, I just got a contract for the next 8 weeks providing 2 jobs a week, thats a nice way to end the day.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Need To Insure Your Bike For Courier Work

Finding the right insurance for your motorcycle courier business can be a nightmare to say the least, so I thought it might be helpful to suggest the place where I arrange mine.

Introducing Coversure Stamford, this insurance business is run by Kevin Lomas and he really understand the needs of the motorcycle courier, he had no problem setting mine up when I went to him last year for my renewals.

I have my motorcycle insurance including the courier extension through Norwich Union and the Goods In Transit insurance is also through Norwich Union and it very convenient to have all with the same broker.

My bike is insured fully comprehensive, with unlimited mileage and the courier extension, the Goods In Transit covers me up to £10,000.

Anyway here is Kev’s web site with all contact details:

http://www.coversure.co.uk/branch/stamford

give him a call I am certain he can help you.

Safe Riding

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Respect For Your Fellow Commercial Road User

The opinions expressed in this article are my own, you may not share them, that’s up to you but they form the basis of my everyday riding technique.

I am talking specifically about respect for the HGV driver here, those great big things that lumber along at 56mph and holding everyone up when they overtake another vehicle, especially on dual carriageways.

Well just take a step back for a moment and think, they are vital to our economy, if they weren’t there would be nothing in supermarket to buy, mail would not get moved around the country, in fact it would all just grind to a stop.

The men and women who drive the HGV’s are providing a vital service to us all and as such deserve respect form us all.

From my point of view if I see a lorry indicating to pull out to overtake I first check if it’s safe slow down a little and allow them to pull out in front of me, sure it slows me down a little but it also helps the lorry driver to maintain his relatively slow constant speed.

Imagine facing a 200 mile journey where 56mph is your maximum speed, it would drive me nuts so if I can help to make their journey a little easier by simply giving them some space and a little time I think it’s worth it.

Nine times out of ten, after I accelerate past that lorry that has just completed his overtake I get a nice thank you wave from the driver and I always give them a thumbs up.

It’s just about helping each other to get our respective jobs done in a safe and efficient manner.

Next time you are in a similar situation just try this, it does make you feel good about yourself!

So You Want To Be A Motorcycle Courier

This article has been written based on my own experiences and is offered as food for thought for anyone who is thinking of becoming a motorcycle courier.

So why am I writing this, well I usually get at least one person either call me email me every week asking me to employ them or advise them on how to get started. Whilst I am more than happy to talk or write to them, I am finding that I am repeating myself most of the time so to save me time I thought I would write this.

Let’s address the employment issue first as it’s the easiest, I cannot offer any one either full or part time employment simply because this business does not provide me with full time employment. The service is customer driven, if a customer needs a job to be done fine, it get’s done but if no customers call for a job to be done then the bike does not go on the road.

Occasionally there is more work than I can cope with but this is rare, but at these times I will sub contract to a few other motorcycle couriers who I know and trust and do have the correct insurances.

How many times have your read adverts or web pages claiming become a courier and earn £750 per week, very tempting but what they don’t tell you is how much it’s going to cost you to earn that sort of money, if indeed you can secure that amount of work in the first place.

Think about it, you may have got your motorcycle and have it on a personal loan or hire purchase, this all costs. Then you need insurance for the bike, fully comprehensive with coverage for courier work, the courier work bit can almost double your premium but it’s a must have if you are going to do this work legally. Goods in transit insurance (GIT), not all motorcycle couriers have this and I am not sure if it’s a legal requirement. I do have it, why, well if you have an accident or your bike gets stolen while you are having a convenience break at the services and the clients goods get damaged or lost YOU ARE LIABLE, simple as that!

So that’s the insurances, what other costs, there are the obvious ones like fuel, road tax, servicing and replacement parts like tyres.

Other costs, well if you don’t have good kit when you start you will not be helping yourself at all.

Let’s start with your new office, your helmet, apart from the obvious safety factors that your helmet provides, you also need be thinking can I wear this for up to 8 hours without it crushing my head or causing all kinds of discomfort. You will live in this helmet, it needs to fit properly and be extremely comfortable for long periods of wear.

Gloves, personally I have two pairs of winter gloves and one set of summer gloves I also have a set of waterproof over gloves.

Riding boots, again comfort is a major priority but they also must be able to offer comfort in the depths of winter as well as the high’s of summer.

And finally, what do you wear on your body, many riders still advocate leathers and I don’t disagree with them, although for all round use throughout the year I prefer a two piece textile suit with a removable lining.

So there you go the basic costs which will obviously vary depending on what you buy, but these must all be borne in mind when working out your running costs and if you are self employed Tax and NI are another factor.

There are many other costs which I won’t go into in any depth here, but a GPS is surely an asset, some method of having your mobile wired into your helmet is another essential and whatever modification you need to do with your bike to make it more comfortable to live on, again this all costs.

So, you got your bike, you got good kit and you are fully insured but you ain’t going anywhere without customers!

This is perhaps the most soul destroying part of being a self employed motorcycle courier, you have laid out wads of money and now you are waiting for the phone to ring and give you some work.

Well my friend’s unless your potential customers know you are there they are not going to call you, so that leads us onto our nesx hurdle, how do we get customers.

There are many ways to do this, you could try advertising in your local paper, but be warned this isn’t cheap and doesn’t guarantee results and if the readership doesn’t read the classifieds section they still won’t know about you.

My two favoured way of finding clients is to have an informative web site and secondly is to get out and meet potential clients, do the leg work, give them printed information about how you can help them and answer their question. By doing the latter you are sowing the seeds of a relationship, they know the person who will be potentially doing work for them and not just some faceless name on the end of a phone.

Another way to get yourself known is to attend networking events, go for the free ones in your local area, but be wary of joining any that charge a fee for an annual membership because this can become dead money and in my experience hasn’t generated any business at all, so be warned.

Another way to get yourself working quickly is to talk to established local courier companies with a view to sub contracting for them (subbing). This will get you busy quickly if you can find one who wants the services you provide, but again beware. The chances are they will offer you around 60p per mile, sounds great at first, but think about it 60p per mile equates to £60 for 100 miles. If you are travelling 100 miles away from your base to make the delivery, you still have 100 miles to get back home again, so that 60p per mile is now effectively 30p per mile and furthermore, you have to find all costs out of this 60p per mile. Chances are you will end up working for less than the minimum wage on these rates, you might as well be stacking shelves in the local supermarket, and it would be a lot safer!

If you are as passionate about motorcycle riding as you think you are, then this could be a great way to earn a living for you. But if your passion for riding is beating up the back roads on a Sunday with your mates during fine weather, maybe riding 100 miles then forget courier riding, you will not be happy doing it unless you are doing inner city work.

My average round trip is usually about 400 miles whatever the weather, much of this is done on motorway’s, European trips can be as much as 850 miles but these always include an over night stop. This sort of mileage is achievable in a day but I wouldn’t advise it it’s too dangerous once fatigue sets in your concentration is shot to hell.

In the summer long runs are great, you are nice and warm and dry, but now take this nice long summer ride and do it in December, its freezing cold, blowing a gale and chucking it down and daylight is fading and you still have 150 miles to go to make the drop off. I tell you without a word of lie, a motorcycle can be one lonely place in situations like this!

Anyway I think that’s about it for now, I hope I haven’t put you off about becoming a motorcycle courier I just wanted to let you know about the realities of this type of work.

Safe riding

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Had a Nice Visit This Afternoon

Yep, we had a nice visit from our mate Chris this afternoon. Chris owns and runs Northampton Motorcycle Couriers and provides a really professional service which I can personally vouch for as he has done a couple of jobs for me.
We spent some time discussing the Honda ST1100 as he also has one which he uses for work and then we spent some time working on his web site, which isn't quite ready yet, but when it is I will post his URL.
While I was doing stuff on his site he was giving Shalini some really good constructive comments on her jewellery webs site http://www.jewellerybyshalini.co.uk which she was really pleased about.
Then we went down into the garage to show him the windscreen that I had for him if he wanted it, he was chuffed so we strapped it onto the back of his bike and I am sure it will be fitted tomorrow morning.
So all in all a very nice afternoon, oh, and the dogs, Bullet (named after the Enfield) and Millie both made a new friend.

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Holland Courier Trip 16 - 17th Feb 09

Left home around 12:45 to head for the Eurotunnel at Folkestone, arrived quote a bit earlier that the reserved time so managed get on an earlier crossing. The ride so far was in fine dry weather which was really nice.
During the crossing I changed all my time pieces and swapped the GPS memory card, then sat down with a sandwich, bag of crisps and a flask of tea and my book for the remainder of the crossing.
It was quote a bit cooler on the French side but it was dry. As I travelled north into Belgium it became noticeably cooler and then it started, yep, the dreaded wet stuff falling from the sky. Stopped at a garage for a fill up and some cheap tobacco. 46 Euros for 10 x 50gm pouches of Sampson, it would costs about 110 quid in the UK for that lot - WHY?
Anyway reached Tilburg around 8:15pm and resembling a drowned rat, it wasn't long before I dived into a hot shower, after hanging all wet gear on the hotel room's radiator, then a quick bite to eat and chat with Shalini and then I turned in and read for a while.
Woke at about 6AM and went for breakfast, also did a weather check in the hope that it would be dry, no such luck. Anyway hit the Tilburg rush hour and headed for the pick up, once the package was on board I headed back to the Eurotunnel at Calais, but I still had one delight to look forward to, as if the driving rain wasn't enough.
The delight I speak about is the Antwerp ring, this morning it was particularly dreadful, just like the M25 when it's having a bad day, anyway cleared that nuisance and made the Eurotunnel with minutes to spare.
This gave me half an hour to relax a bit before the run up to the drop of at Cambridge, it was pleasant to be riding in dry weather again!
Made the drop off about 45 minutes ahead of schedule, the client was chuffed, the word "magic" was used - nice.
Now it's time to go and relax after a total round trip of 694 miles, about 60% of them done in the rain.

Cheers and safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Honda ST1100 - Best Bike For Courier Work

Honda ST1100 - Best Bike For Courier Work, I guess this is quite a bold statement to make but I stand by it 100%.
Imagine, you have just taken on a courier job, it's 400 or 500 mile round trip, it's cold and throwing it down with rain and somehow you have got to stay warm and dry for the next 8 hours or so while you complete the job!
Well I guess this where the ST1100 wins over many bikes, it is offers excellent weather protection for the rider with its generous fairing and decent wind screen, I have added the fairing extenders on my bike which gives that bit more protection for the knees.
Another all important consideration is the riding position, if you work in an office at a desk, then the chances are you will have a comfortable chair that provides good support for your days work. Well as a motorcycle courier, the bike is your office and for most people the ST1100 is very comfortable for long distances. I did a few mods on my bike to achieve a good riding position, first off I got a set of Heli Bars, this increase the height of the handlebars which gave me more of an upright riding position, thus taking the strain off my wrists. I also bought an Air Hawk saddle cushion, rather than being filled with gel, this cushion is inflated with air, I don't go anywhere without it. Because I was created without any padding on my bum, this is an essential bit of kit.
OK, so that's rider comfort taken care of, you still need a bike that's going to take you the distance and bring you back reliably with the minimum of fuss, well the ST1100 is just a mile eater, it's equally happy on the motorways cruising at a good rate of knots and going slow around town streets and offering a good fuel return from it's smooth V4 engine.
You also need somewhere that's waterproof to carry the item you are carrying for your client, plus a place to keep your spare dry gear, flask and butty box. With 2 generously sized panniers on the bike as standard, you don't have a problem with this, add a GIVI top box and you can carry the kitchen sink as well if you want!
The are plenty of good ST1100 around for the prospective courier to buy, many are ex police but that isn't a problem. With the ST1100 age isn't too much of a worry as long as the bike has a proven service history, don't worry about mileage to much either, mine has 75,000 on the clock and is still chomping at the bit for the next mile, these bikes are known to cover 200,000 miles with ease, you just have to look after them, regular 4000 miles services are a must.
If you are going to get one, there are 2 things to check before commiting and this could save you hundred's in the future.
  1. Check the exhaust downpipes and collector box, these are prone to rot and new system will set you back a heap of money. I replaced my whole exhaust system at around 50,000 miles and it cost £800.00
  2. If possible check the rear swing arms for rot, these are prone to go and again it's an expensive thing to replace. My swing arm was repaired at 60,000 miles and then layered with more paint than a ships hull! Cost - not too bad £150.00 because we had caught early enough to allow it be repaired.
Look after the bike and it will look after you!
I will describe my bike and the addon's in more depth in another post but I will never post a full picture of the bike, when I am out working I do not want anyone to know it's a courier bike otherwise it could become a target for theft of what I might be carrying for a client.

Safe Riding

A Tip For Riding In Europe

Hi this tip is mainly for riders who are not based on the European mainland and it concerns buying fuel for your bike.
As you know by now I am based in the UK and our currency is becoming worthless in other countries, especially in Euroland. In addition to this my bank HSBC now charges a 2.99% premium for anything bought abroad on business credit card, so keep this in mind.
On my last courier trip to Holland I stopped in Belgium to buy fuel as I was getting low and I paid using my business card for the fuel, it was almost a full tank that I bought, about 20 litres.
This was sufficient to get me up to Amsterdam and then back to the Hook of Holland to catch the ferry back to Harwich.
On arrival back in the UK I filled up again, almost the same amount of fuel at a Shell garage, it cost just over £18.00.
A few days later I checked my business card statement on line to see how much that fill up in Belgium had actually cost, I was astounded, in total the fill up in Belgium cost just over £25.00, remember the same fill up in The UK had cost £18.00, thats £7.00 difference.
So if you are going on a touring holiday this year and you plan on doing a lot of miles - beware it's going to cost you!
So what's my tip, buy Euro cash before you go and use it for everything you buy, yes the exchange rate isn't that great but at least you won't get hit by the 2.99% that the bank lumps on top for every transaction that you do abroad.
I will be buying some Euro's on Monday morning for my trip to Holland this coming Monday and Tuesday.
One final thing, do make sure you carry a credit card just for emergencies though.

Safe Riding!