It's electrifying: Deliveroo's Shady gets up to speed
Modded ebike is light work for Cambridge Electric Bikes
Cambridge’s top Deliveroo rider took delivery of his upgraded new electric bike last week.
Shady Elsayed’s Riese & Muller bicycle already had one motor – but he required another one to pull the heavy loads he carries for the delivery firm. The adaptation was carried out by Cambridge Electric Bikes in the Newmarket Road.
“We can electrify any bike,” said Cambridge Electric Bikes’ mechanic Luke Chapman of the service. “Conversions start at around £800 and go up to £2,000. It cost around £1,400 to add a second motor for Shady’s bike. The parts all came from a kit specialist.”
Shady’s Riese & Muller wheels cost £2,850 in the first place but, being a superb bit of engineering, the extra motor had to be up to the job – which meant Bosch, with the battery located between the handlebars and the seat. The combination means regular speeds of 15mph – “within the speed limit”, says Shady – are possible.
“I use pedal assist when delivering food,” he says, “but on a hill, or with a heavy load, I need something to back me up. With the pedal assist you don’t need to change gear too often. The motors can work together or separately, I find it best to use them together. I can use it for four or five hours on one charge: if I charge it for two hours I can use it for the rest of the day. The electricity bill does come out high but it’s better than petrol.”
Shady, who owns two electric bikes – if one has problems the other will ensure he is able to maintain his delivery schedule – has been a full-time professional delivery rider for the past three years. He lives on the back of Midsummer Common – “close to the action”, as he puts it.
“For traffic like this,” Shady says, pointing to the chaos on the Newmarket Road, “most drivers get stuck, and it’s easier for bikes. It’s much quicker getting round on an ebike. I do 15 to 20 deliveries a day.”
Shady works for both Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
“Most people do both,” he says of the situation for delivery riders on the front line of the gig economy. “I use apps for Deliveroo and Uber Eats, though that might change – it looks as though Uber Eats will buy Deliveroo.”
London-based Deliveroo, which was founded in 2013 and is now operating in 200 cities around the world, is indeed in talks with Uber, as was announced last month. Deliveroo is valued at £1.5billion. Uber Eats launched in 2014, already delivers in 290 cities around the world, and is on target for annual revenues of $6billion.
There is some concern that a virtual monopoly would squeeze payments even further. Last month, Uber Eats drivers staged a protest in London against the company, claiming that its rates had been reduced without consultation.
As it stands, having two delivery firms probably ensures that some semblance of fairness is retained in the sector, and indeed Shady notes that the payment structure for Deliveroo has altered in riders’ favour. Previously, no account was taken of the mileage involved in a delivery.
“In Cambridge we get paid with a new distance-based system,” Shady explains, “so from here to McDonalds on the Newmarket Road and back – around five miles – I’d get paid £7.45. It wasn’t always like that – with no boost, it would be £4 or £5. The boost is like a promotion for riders at certain times.
“The ebike really helps, I’d guess it’s impossible to sustain that sort of rate on a pushbike.”