This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 68.
Simon Nuttall chased ‘Cambridge’s cleanest couriers’, Rob and Pete King of Outspoken Delivery, in early September. He asked these questions.
When were you established?
We incorporated in November 2005 and were ‘up and running’ in January this year.
Who are your customers?
At present we have about 30 regular customers, ranging from accountants to sandwich shops. We’re seeing a big increase in home deliveries, especially in organic box schemes and similar.
What can you deliver?
From express envelopes whisked across town, to firkins of beer trundled down from Milton. Our bikes can carry more than most people expect – easily ten half cases of wine or 100 kg weight – but we also protect deliveries in a waterproof, lockable box; we have been trusted to carry scientific equipment and three-tier wedding cakes.
How much does it cost?
Our basic price is £3.95 for up to an A4 box sized load, for any distance within the city (We would usually do this within a couple of hours). We then add a premium for larger loads and for our express service (we can cross the breadth of Cambridge in just 20 minutes). We believe this makes us the most competitive courier in Cambridge.
How far do you go?
Everywhere within the city boundaries, including Trumpington, Cherry Hinton and the Science Park. With a smile and a bit of sunshine we travel out to Milton and Histon!
It sounds like hard work. Does it keep you fit? Do your riders undergo any special training?
The work is very rewarding, but cycling for up to 70 miles a day means eating like a horse! Also, you can end up with huge legs and a scrawny torso. In terms of how our riders are trained, we’re aware that we are a highly visible presence on the roads and therefore have a responsibility to show cyclists in a positive light. I imagine we are unusually law-abiding!
Can you take a parcel to London for me?
Of course! With a little notice. We have recently been doing the odd evening run for a travel agent. We use the train and a bicycle (not the 8-freight!) at either end to ensure a very speedy door-to-door service.
Tell me about your bikes. Why did you choose them?
We saw the Mike Burrows designed ‘8-freight’ in a review by a cycle courier firm based in York. The bikes seemed well-proven on the roads. The open design meant we could manufacture our own boxes to fit in the carrying cage. Most importantly, the bikes have just two wheels while most freight bikes have three or four; this means we can squeeze onto all the cycle paths, being no wider than a regular bicycle.
How do people get in touch with you?
By phone on 01223 719594; through our website (on which there is a raft of further information), or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob and Pete’s business is different to the more familiar cycle couriers. The bikes they use and the goods they transport are bigger and heavier. They say they have learned to use the primary cycling position (riding in the traffic stream). ‘That way it is safer, and if vehicles do overtake you they give you a wider berth. We have come to recognise many of the van and bus drivers.They remember when we’ve yielded to let them pass.’
The closure of the centre of Cambridge to through traffic has created opportunities for businesses like Outspoken to flourish. Their challenge is to make potential customers believe they can deliver, but with their highly professional approach they deserve to succeed.