LIVE AGAIN: Ride an e-bike, with a very Chilled Squirrel

Chilled Squirrel Electric Bikes: Green Mobility in South Africa

Here at #bicyclecouriers we’ve had several requests for bicycles to be sent to Chilled Squirrel Electric Bikes right here in Cape Town. And now I know why. Because you can have your existing bicycle converted into an e-bike. Just like that. From a MTB to an e-MTB! I caught up with the founder and owner of Chilled Squirrel e-bikes, Matt Leve, to find out more. Here are my top ten questions to Matt.


YOUR ROOTS: How & when & where did you start Chilled Squirrel?

Chilled Squirrel started in 2013 in Taiwan and 2014 in SA. I lived in Taiwan for 15 years and was involved in a supply chain business. The city I was living in was home to the big bike brand and parts development centers (external links to SRAM, Shimano, Bosch eBike systems, and internal links to TREK, Specialized, Cannondale, SCOTT, Canyon, Merida).

Many of my friends there were involved in the cycling business and so over the years I took an interest in bicycles. Taichung city is known globally as the cycling goods manufacturing region for higher end bikes and components. Giant and Merida bike brands both have their humble beginnings in this city.

THE NAME: Where does the name Chilled Squirrel come from?

  • ‘Chilled’ speaks to the more relaxed approach to cycling – the opportunity for people to stick together on rides. The flexibility of being able to just power off and ride normally and then power on and get assistance for when a person is exhausted.
  • ‘Squirrel’ speaks to nature, where nature is not disturbed by loud noises like that with cars and petrol driven motorcycles. When you cycle through a forest with squirrels, they will tend to be a lot more chilled.

ABOUT MATT: Tell us about the man behind Chilled Squirrel – your own background and cycling?

What gave me a further push into the cycling world was a mountain bike ride with friends where I got lost and dehydrated. Riding in the mountains just outside Taichung City, I was rescued by a guy who was riding an electric bike that day along the same trail I got lost on! And I was introduced to the wonderful world of e-biking and never looked back. There is a video on YouTube, it is my best attempt so far at telling the story 😅

CONVERSIONS: What’s the split between selling new e-bikes vs doing conversions on existing non-e-bikes at Chilled Squirrel?

The split is currently 40% conversions and 60% complete e-bikes. // Wow, I certainly didn’t know that there are so many conversions being done. And this opens up a whole new world for cycling – where you can take your existing beloved bicycle and have it converted for pedal assistance. No need to trade in your beloved brand name sentimental steed for something unfamiliar. Rater keep cycling on what you know and love, with all the benefits of a battery and a motor to assist when the needs arises.

EXPANSION: How many Chilled Squirrel distributors do you currently have and where in South Africa are they?

Brand new. We have only just started spreading our wings looking for distributors. We are not in a rush though as we’d love to find resellers that care as much as we do for each sale. So, while we have actively started looking, we are dedicated to finding the right distributors.

BRAND AMBASSADORS: I saw Leoni Mervis on the list – what can someone do to become involved with Chilled Squirrel?

(PS I’m cycling for WarriorOnWheelsFoundation and think they could be a great match!) That’s so awesome Nico. Warrior on Wheels foundation is doing great work and must be super grateful for your input. Chilled Squirrel ambassadors are people that have got themselves an electric bike from us and who we have established a long-term friendly relationship with over the years.

We also partnered with Greenpop an NGO – each time we convert a bike to electric or build a complete electric bike we plant a tree. And a certificate is issued showing the GPS co-ordinates for that planted tree. [For example, Dees will get his certificate once we have planted the tree with Greenpop, it normally takes place within 2-3 weeks of completing the ebike or conversion].

RANGE ANXIETY: My sister-in-law did her 1st CTCT this year on an e-bike and the battery lasted the whole way! What is the typical range one can expect from the various battery and motor combinations?

That’s great your sister-in-law got to experience the magnificent Cape Town Cycle Tour because it has such a wonderful atmosphere. Now that they have opened the way for e-bikes to enter more people are joining in the fun that they could not do before. We have several customers who enter each year with their e-bikes. This is a frequently asked question. People have a phobia for range and that’s understandable especially that you are investing in an e-bike that you want to provide you with ‘pedal assistance’ during your entire trip.

Calculating range is based on these 3 fundamentals: the Weight of the person; the Type of Terrain; and Fitness of rider (some people need more assistance therefore use higher levels of assistance and some need less assistance). Our batteries typically come in a choice of four types (all of them 48v as below), which have the following typical ranges, from 60 all the way up to 120 kms on average:

  • 10.5 ah – average 60km
  • 14.0 ah – average 80km
  • 17.5 ah – average 100km
  • 21.0 ah – average 120km

PEACE OF MIND: How reliable is the e-bike and what warranties are in place for ultimate peace of mind?

Let’s face it thing’s sometimes go wrong. Either as a result of a rider’s mistake or as a result of a manufacturing fault. The big question lies in what and how the ebike brand / supplier will respond and deal with the matter.

Our aim is to always make sure things are sorted out as fast as possible so that the person can get back into riding again with minimum delay. We do that by keeping crucial components in stock. And by dealing with issues efficiently. And that has worked for our customers since 2014. Basically, treating others as we want to be treated. For Warranty Information please have a look at

GOING FORWARD: What’s next for Chilled Squirrel and your plans for the future?

We are in the process of building a B2B platform, to be completed in the next 30 days. Chilled Squirrel is actively seeking suitable distributors in different regions so that we can start establishing a relationship. We are also building electric cargo bikes and trikes to cater for the trend of growing online internet sales and required door to door deliveries especially in bigger cities.

And we still have a company in Taiwan that sources parts for us. Now we are also building e-bikes in Taiwan for some models to reduce cost because importing all the components and then building in SA is proving to be too costly for some models where production in bigger quantities is required.

Kind Regards, Matt
Live Again. Ride an E-bike.

PS, why e-bikes?

  • An Exhilarating way to Exercise.
  • Stick together on Rides.
  • Rediscover the Joy of Cycling.
  • Unlock Amazing Adventures.
  • Go to places you’ve never imagined.
  • Join the #Ebike revolution Today.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the conversions, a picture is worth 1000 words:


And there you have it. Thanks so much for your time, Matt Leve. I wish you the best of success going forward. And may we deliver many a Chilled Squirrel e-bike together with #bicyclecouriers.


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