A motorcycle courier, also known as motorcycle messengers, or dispatch riders are couriers using a motorcycle or scooter to deliver consignments such as documents and small parcels. Motorcycle couriers are common in the major urban centres of Europe, South America, Asia and America.



At the end of the first world war in 1918, many British Army motorcycle dispatch riders of the Royal Corps of Signals were demobbed and found gaining employment difficult. As a result, they purchased military surplus motorcycles, and started doing motorcycle courier work in central London. Following world war two increasing congestion in London saw motorcycle riders making scheduled runs with artwork or copy between printers to and from advertising agencies or newspapers.

In London, motorcycle couriers became very popular following the 1971 Royal Mail strike, when motorcycles were fitted with bulky mini-cab radios. In London businesses were pleased with the results and the motorcycle courier industry took off from the mid-1970's. The advent of bicycle couriers and the fax machine in the mid-1980's, as well as appropriate insurance and e-mail in the 1990's saw an end to the high earning boom years of the early 1980's for London motorcycle couriers. However, in the congested cities of many developing countries, motorcycle couriers are as popular as ever.