A courier is reliant on his vehicle to get him around, whether it is a motorcycle or a van. He needs it to be reliable and cost effective for the job it has to do. We have looked at some of the vehicles available for courier work to assess their suitability for the task.
A motorbike is an ideal vehicle for getting around in big cities. It can cut through the traffic and can carry documents and small parcels with the use of a box.
Honda CGF 125
Many couriers swear by the old Honda XR125 but this is now only available second hand and it will cost you about £800-£2000. Remember that these will not be new and will require more maintenance than its newer counterparts. A newer version of this useful small motorbike is the Honda CGF 125.
A brand-new Honda CGF 125 will cost you about £2,500. It has a top speed of 65 mph and is marketed as a commuter bike. It is not as comfortable as a big bike for a long journey but is great for city travel. Honda claims 134 mpg but an independent test registered it as 87.5 mpg.
The nearest competitor to the Honda CGF 125 nearest competitor is probably the Yamaha YBR125 which is a similar bike with similar reviews. Regularly described as reliable, it has a top speed of just over 62 miles per hour and Yamaha claim a fuel consumption of just over 94 miles per gallon. The brand new price is about £2750, slightly more expensive than the Honda. A second hand one can be obtained for £1250.
The 125 motorcycle is an easy to ride small bike for city and town work but for long distance you would need a larger bike. One which gets good reviews is the Suzuki SV650. Easy to ride and reliable, it has a starting price of just under £5000. The average fuel consumption is about 40 miles per gallon. The second hand price is usually about £2000.
Husqvarna Nuda 900
If you want a British made bike, with a performance edge, Husqvarna is now owned by BMW and are making road bikes again. Many of their bikes would be uncomfortable to ride for a long distance and uneconomical on fuel but the Husqvarna Nuda 900 is a reasonably comfortable ride with an average fuel consumption of about 72 miles per gallon. Tank range is about 150 miles and a new one will cost you £8750 but you can pick up a second hand one for £5000.
Remember that your motorcycle will need to be serviced regularly and this can be costly if you do a lot of miles. An interim service costs about £135 and an annual service costs £175 while a major service can cost nearly £400. Tyres start from £60 each to over £300 and if you do a high mileage will need to be replaced regularly.
Small Van Couriers
For larger loads a van is essential. A car will not give you the versatility you need for courier work and has a very limited space. Getting loads in and out is difficult. Vans are designed to transport goods as well as people and come in a large variation of shapes and sizes.
One of the most popular small panel vans for courier work is the Volkswagen Caddy. It has a starting price of £12,860 and can fit in 3.2 cubic metres of load. It is economical on fuel running at about 55 miles per gallon as claimed by the manufacturers. On independent tests it averaged 53 miles per gallon at a speed of 70 mph, making it useful for long runs on the motorway.
Volkswagens have an excellent reputation for reliability and the Caddy is no exception. It drives very much like a car so that your long distance comfort is assured. It holds its price fairly well; second hand Caddys can be bought for under £8,000 for a relatively new one.
Another small van competitor is the Vauxhall Corsavan though it carries a much smaller load volume, 0.9 cubic metres; it is as comfortable as the average car and can give you up to 48 mpg in the petrol version with the potential of almost 70 from the diesel engine. It has the starting price of about £11,650 but doesn’t hold its price as well as the Volkswagen Caddy.
You can obtain a good quality second hand one for about £6,500.Vauxhall as a company is fairly reliable and the Corsavan will only need a service every 20,000 miles. Servicing is generally cheaper than the Volkswagen equivalent. For a bigger Vauxhall, the Astravan has one and a half cubic metres of load space and can easily take one europallet and like the Corsavan servicing is also every 20,000 miles.
It also is as driveable as a car and is extremely manoeuvrable, making it useful for an urban situation. Starting price is from about £14,500 and a good second hand one will cost about £9,000 with a little change.
Also popular with the courier is the Citroen Berlingo. It is regarded by many as probably the best all round small van and has been a market leader for some time. It has a basic starting price of £11,795 and you can pick up a second hand one for about £5,000.It will give you 3.3 cubic meter load volume for the short wheel base version and 3.7 m³ for the long wheelbase, with a fuel consumption of 60 miles per gallon claimed by Citroen for their new bands while older vans can give up to 48 miles per gallon. It is one of the larger compact vans on the market today.
Large Van Couriers
Many loads can’t be accommodated in a small van. Larger vans will give you more versatility though you will not get the small car comfort.
One of the standard courier vans, maybe the style icon for the white van, is the Ford Transit. It is the commonest large van on Britain’s roads today. Estimation suggests that one in four of all the vans on the road are a Ford Transit.
There are many styles and variations of the Ford Transit and they are extremely popular with couriers providing UK services. The largest can carry up to 7.94 m³ load space on the short wheelbase and the starting price for the basic model is £17,405. Being such a popular van there are lots of second hand bargains around but they do vary, as you can tell from the second hand prices which range from about £4,000 to nearly £19,000, depending on age and model.
Ford Transits have a stunning range of variation in their size, specifications and extras and for a large van they are surprisingly comfortable. Fuel wise you should get about 25 miles per gallon from it.
Another classic medium sized van is the Mercedes Sprinter which can give you a load space of 7.5 cubic metres on the short wheelbase up to 17 cubic metres for the longest wheel base, and fuel consumption up to 36 mpg.
The Mercedes Sprinter holds its price well and you can expect to pay £13,000 for a second hand one whereas a brand new one costs from£18,975 up to a whopping £64,000 plus, but of course this is the all singing all dancing version.
The main plus for the Sprinter is its reliability and Mercedes will offer you unlimited mileage warranty on a new vehicle. It is probably the fastest van of its size on the road and it will drive up hills with no problem. The Mercedes Sprinter is possibly the best drive around for comfort and speed.
A similar popular van made by Volkswagen is the LT. With its starting price of £16,346 it will lose its value faster than the Sprinter, with second hand vehicles being available from under £9000, but this mean that there are bargains to be had in the second hand market making it a popular choice of vehicle for many man and van businesses. With a load space starting at 7 cubic metres its capacity is very similar to the Sprinter and fuel consumption is about 30 miles per gallon Reliability is good but servicing for both the Mercedes Sprinter and the Volkswagen LT can be more expensive than the Ford.
If you need an even larger van, all the above are available in long wheel base versions, some with a Luton style body which is useful if you need the height, for example if you are moving furniture. The Vauxhall version of the large van is the Movano. This provides 17 cubic metres of load space and with sliding doors to the side this makes loading items such as europallets much easier. It has good fuel economy for a large vehicle averaging up to 35 miles per gallon. New price is £23,392 while second hand values are up to about £14,000.
Price, reliability, servicing costs, and fuel economy are all important points in choosing your transport. The vehicle is the courier’s most important tool so it is important to choose wisely.