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So last year I tacked some long events for the first time, 50m and 100miles and learned that keeping yourself fuelled is essential. I can go out for a training ride for a couple of hours but you don't notice of you are loosing energy, you are just comparing to last time. But on a sportive I quickly started to go backwards. Some late stops for free gels on the London 100 gave me a real boost; and although I won't be ditching real food I plan to include a few in my back pocket.

So here is the thing; they are quite expensive individually at Sainsburys chemist counter. I know I can probably buy in bulk from one of the usual websites but I would like some recommendations first. Who makes the best gels? Energy wise or flavour wise. Where can I find the most economic (not just the cheapest but good brands at a good unit price.)

Cola/Watermelon/Mojito, any you love, or spit out?

36 comments

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kev-s [187 posts] 2 years ago
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personally i like the high5 range, not a over powering flavour, more subtle, ill even eat the apple one and i hate apples!!!

i bought 2 boxes of 20 mixed gels from wiggle for £20 (offer they had, high5 is always on offer somewhere) so thats forty gels, 50p each

they even sell them in tkmax now and again

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 for High, I buy them when they are on offer (anywhere from Halfords to PBK) and stock them up, they are light and tasty.

If you crave the thicker syrupy type, Zipvit are at the other end of the scale, but I personally find them really sickly.

I recently tried OTE, I would say a bit better than high5 in taste, and although larger, work out more expensive than High5, not a concern if only buying a few though.

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S13SFC [134 posts] 2 years ago
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High5 for me as well.

Easy to take, gentle on my stomach and good value at 50p a pop.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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I did a whole write up about bars and gels. Never published it because alot have been on the review section anyway.

I stick to shot bloks now though, just prefer the jelly to a gel

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glynr36 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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Make real food instead.
I feel better on rides since I started making rice cakes etc for rides. Miles cheaper too.

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S13SFC [134 posts] 2 years ago
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glynr36 wrote:

Make real food instead.
I feel better on rides since I started making rice cakes etc for rides. Miles cheaper too.

Why not both? I've a taste for hot cross buns with jam, bananas and jelly babies but on a long ride I'll also have a gel or two.

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MKultra [396 posts] 2 years ago
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Flap Jacks contain about a 5th of the daily calories an inactive person needs, they handily contain different types of sugars and carbs so they are not just a quick fix but slow release as well

They are also only 50p in Aldi.

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fullers1979 [45 posts] 2 years ago
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Torq rhubarb and custard! Mmmmmm!!! Not cheap from the shops but then we get them at a very favourable price. Can't beat real food though, as a few have said, it's cheaper and more gentle on the digestive system! However gels are an easy and handy addition to any ride.

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matthewn5 [776 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 for High5. Think the mixed berry ones are ok, all gels are pretty sickly stuff. Good for that last hill when you are starting to fade.

And take the empty wrappers home with you.

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Leviathan [1984 posts] 2 years ago
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High5 getting all the votes then, thanks.

Flapjacks are good but the best 'homemade' ones you can buy are Sainsburys Granola squares, lots for fruits and seeds in them.
http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/sainsburys-granola-slices-...

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Simon E [2722 posts] 2 years ago
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I've seen more favourable reviews for Torq than any other brand, often by people who have tried others and find it's the only brand they can stomach. You won't find Torq cheap anywhere, but that's deliberate - Matt is selling a premium product and refuses to undermine his brand. There are testers at some stores so you can try the flavours.

OTE were reviewed on road.cc, they sound nice enough.

I've read too many user reviews of Zipvit gels that compare the texture with, er, a bodyfluid I'd rather not swallow, so I can't say I'd be rushing to try them either  31

I won't touch SIS, they are purveyors of artificial sweeteners  14

But TBH unless you're racing flat-out I think it's unnecessary, an expensive way to get some sugar. A recent discussion on gels:
http://road.cc/content/forum/115139-how-long-climb-should-you-take-gel

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Leviathan [1984 posts] 2 years ago
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Okay,okay, so I gave got down to 62p each for 25 High5 Isogels on Wiggle. Everyone is bigging up High5 here, but to Iso or not to Iso? All SIS stuff says it is Isotonic, or just regular 'Energy Gel' as High5 proclaim.

Much credence in isotonic stuff?

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't stomach any gels, luckily for me I'm a demon for fig rolls and they're only 50p for a sainsburys pack.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 2 years ago
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About the only ones I like are the Kinetica Cola ones. No one else I've ever met uses them, but they're pretty ok. Can't stand the High5 ones, and the Torq taste like arse on a hot day.

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neildmoss [291 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

I won't touch SIS, they are purveyors of artificial sweeteners  14

Agree on this. I've narrowed down SIS gels to be the cause of my post-exercise headaches. More than one gel over the day, and that's me for the evening.

Anyone else had similar experience?

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Jonathan Knight [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I picked up a couple of espresso flavoured gels at a bike show last year, very nice they were but I'm a coffee lover anyway. I think they are Zipvit, they weren't a sickly as some gels I've had before and actually tasted like the flavour they were supposed to be.

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themartincox [500 posts] 2 years ago
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best thing is certainly to try them out, but wiggle et al offer far better value than sainsbury's counter....

I am a big fan of the Torq range, they are thick enough without being too thick, and the flavours are quirky and fun - and genuinely pleasant!

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 2 years ago
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Jonathan Knight wrote:

I picked up a couple of espresso flavoured gels at a bike show last year, very nice they were but I'm a coffee lover anyway. I think they are Zipvit, they weren't a sickly as some gels I've had before and actually tasted like the flavour they were supposed to be.

They might have been these

http://www.mulebar.com/collections/energy-gels/products/cafe-cortado

I'd rather have real food than a gel, but I would make an exception for one of these - not cheap though. When I've used them it's been as a get-me-home treat for the last couple of hours of a big ride.

The other product I've used that I really liked the taste of was the 33Shake Original Chia Vanilla Energy Gel… which is even pricier. Very tasty but more like a sort of vanilla porridge than a gel. David Else who reviewed it wasn't as impressed as I was. I'm not sure I'd pay £1.99 - maybe for a special ride.

http://road.cc/content/review/107907-33shake-original-vanilla-chai-energ...

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ajmarshal1 [411 posts] 2 years ago
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-1 for High5! They're cheap but don't work for me at all. Personally I hold Torq stuff right at the top of the tree.

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S13SFC [134 posts] 2 years ago
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Torq are excellent & actually taste as OK. However, price wise, they are too expensive for me considering they do the same job as High5.

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dunnoh [198 posts] 2 years ago
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I usually buy the High 5 Race day including bottle when its on offer - £3 sometimes. That gets you 10 gels, some recovery stuff, salt tabs, energy powder, bottle etc. I've tried loads. The best are CNP Elite Hydro Max Gel's but they are so expensive I rarely ever get them. Next best are High 5. Torq are more like pudding and make me feel sticky they are that surgery. The worst was something given to me in Belgium - it was like drinking Vics vaporub.

I tend to buy flapjacks, marathons and a few nectarines and bananas as well as the odd gel. You can really feel fruit like oranges and apples working on a hard ride. I'm surprised more people don't have them

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Paul J [884 posts] 2 years ago
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Get your favourite, most palatable bag of jelly/gum sweets from Aldi. Pretty much identical energy & protein contents and ingredients to many gels. Much, *much* cheaper. Aldi's dominion brand sell 230 g odd for 70p to a £. Massive saving!

The vast majority of these sports gel/drink products are a triumph of marketing: selling staple goods at quite massive markups by slapping "Energy!", "Sport!", etc. on fancy packaging (in small sizes).

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Bagpuss [99 posts] 2 years ago
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Gels are a very personal thing and they do vary. Slightly.

Hi5 - 38g of gel, 23g carbohydrate, 93 kcal per gel (not got one here so got that from amazon)

These figures from the packets:

Torq Banoffe - 45g gel, 28g carbohydrate, 112 kcal.

SIS blackcurrant 60 ml gel, 22g carbohydrate, 87 kcal.
SIS Lemon & lime 60 ml gel, 19g carbohydrate, 76 kcal.
SIS orange 60 ml gel, 22g carbohydrate, 86 kcal.
SIS cola 60 ml gel, 21g carbohydrate, 85 kcal. Plus caffeine.

Torq is the only gel I have to hand that lists potassium in the contents (11.5 mg), that might help if you suffer from cramp.

I've yet to find a brand I couldn't swallow but I find some flavours hard going (peach, really?).

As said above, Torq are rarely on offer anywhere, SIS usually have internet offers straight from SIS and can be found 3 for 2 in supermarkets.

It's been a quiet day, IGMC on the way out.

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neildmoss [291 posts] 2 years ago
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The jelly gum route works for me too - Haribo cola bottles a particular favourite.

However, it's all gelatin and I have since discovered how that's made on an industrial scale. Revolting - not even been tempted since.

I hope I never learn how sausages are made.

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Simon E [2722 posts] 2 years ago
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S13SFC wrote:

Torq are excellent & actually taste as OK. However, price wise, they are too expensive for me considering they do the same job as High5.

Ha ha, Iove it! It's like saying you prefer a nice glass of wine, but when you go out you just neck a few pints of Wife Beater as it still gets you p!ssed.
 3

+1 to Paul J. A friend races long TTs on jelly babies and she ain't slow.

But JBs, Obree's jam sandwich or whatever is too cheap and ordinary, they don't work for real athletes. These people need gels.

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dafyddp [362 posts] 2 years ago
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If you use two drink bottles on longer rides, consider using an energy drink in one and electrolyte in the other. Start switching to more of the energy option from about half way - IMO, a regular intake of energy this way is more effective than gels. For me, half a malt load, a couple of Nature Valley cereal bars, and this drink combo is if good for 100ish mile rides.

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S13SFC [134 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:
S13SFC wrote:

Torq are excellent & actually taste as OK. However, price wise, they are too expensive for me considering they do the same job as High5.

Ha ha, Iove it! It's like saying you prefer a nice glass of wine, but when you go out you just neck a few pints of Wife Beater as it still gets you p!ssed.
 3

+1 to Paul J. A friend races long TTs on jelly babies and she ain't slow.

But JBs, Obree's jam sandwich or whatever is too cheap and ordinary, they don't work for real athletes. These people need gels.

If price wasn't an issue then everyone would be riding £8k bikes & be clad in Assos or Rapha. Simply put some of us may have champagne tastes but only beer money.

Personally I take hot cross buns with jam on them at this time of year, a couple of bananas and jelly babies but I always have gels with me as a "just in case" and will take them if I feel I need to

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Chuck [546 posts] 2 years ago
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Torq are OK taste-wise, I usually use the High 5 caffeine + ones though as that's what's easily available when I'm in town on my lunch break and they seem to work for me.

Performance-wise far too many variables for me to be able to say I've definitively found one type to be better than the other. I suspect a lot of it is all in the head. I rarely use them at all actually, only on sportives etc. as a sort of special go-juice to perk me up a bit near the end, and then I'll rarely have more than one unless I really start to flag badly. I've usually got one in my saddle pack though.

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SPAM Naval [139 posts] 2 years ago
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As I am diabetic I find that energy gels (and bars) at least give me a very measured consumption of carbs/sugars that I probably wouldn't be able to quntify so easily from homemade equivalents.
Saying that I supplement my Torq gels (rhubarb and custard beat any other makes for taste!) with Jelly Babies and those little caramel shortbread squares

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Simon E [2722 posts] 2 years ago
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S13SFC wrote:

If price wasn't an issue then everyone would be riding £8k bikes & be clad in Assos or Rapha. Simply put some of us may have champagne tastes but only beer money.

I wouldn't spend beer money on energy gels. But if gels tasted like champagne... nah, I'd still prefer beer.

SPAM Naval wrote:

As I am diabetic I find that energy gels (and bars) at least give me a very measured consumption of carbs/sugars that I probably wouldn't be able to quntify so easily from homemade equivalents.

I don't think a diabetic needs energy gels more than anyone else. All foods have nutritional info on the packet, whether it's JBs, Mars bars or energy bars. A gel is really only semi-liquid sugar; sweets do the same job.

None of us wants to think they've been seduced by marketing, we describe it as "needs" or "requirements". With gels you're just paying a hefty premium for convenience, so why not admit it?

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