Clif Bar's original energy bar product packs a tasty and filling energy punch, in a large variety of flavours.
Not content with the usual simple flavours we see so often with energy bar products – chocolate, strawberry, lemon, banana, and the like – Clif Bar has always impressed with its variations. Alongside a new coconut chocolate chip flavour, you can also have chocolate chip, crunchy peanut butter, oatmeal raisin walnut, blueberry crisp, chocolate almond fudge and white chocolate macadamia.
All are super-tasty – I would happily eat all of them – and yet not too sweet or sickly as the names sometimes suggest. In particular I like the new coconut chocolate chip flavour, though it doesn't seem readily available in the UK yet.
Each flavour has a slightly different nutritional profile, which will have a marginally different effect on the body. While some might like to delve into these margins, personally I don't think they have a noticeable effect on performance. I'd go with your favourite flavour, unless you have a particular favourite ingredient you want to take advantage of (like the Omega oils in the oatmeal raisin walnut flavour, for example).
So, from each (coconut chocolate chip) bar you get 256 calories of energy, derived primarily from oats. That means there are 6g of fat per bar alongside 38g of carbohydrate (21g of which are sugars). That's quite a hit of energy from a bar that weighs in at 68g – portable enough to be able to carry three in a normal sized jersey pocket.
The high glycaemic index (GI) sugars pick you up from your energy slumps very well indeed, while the low GI carbohydrate helps prolong the energy release. That means you feel satiated for longer. The size of the bar is almost perfect if you wanted to use one as a healthier option in place of your usual flapjack or cake at your coffee stop.
Impressively, each bar contains 10g of protein too (markedly more than most energy bars on the market). Proteins take longer to break down and digest than simple sugars, which means this also assists with staving off hunger. Additionally, feeding your system with a small amount of protein on your ride provides the amino acids to support recovery and maintain lean muscle in what, after all, is a very catabolic (breaking down muscle) and draining activity. I wouldn't sacrifice my post-training recovery shake for these, but using them during my rides can only be helping matters.
Another thing I particularly like about these bars (for the record, they're not your usual rectangular bar; closer in shape to a rounded cookie) is the micro-nutrient content. Supporting energy release and general healthy wellbeing are vitamins B6 and B12 (especially key in supporting energy release), A, C, D and E. You'll also spot helpings of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium and magnesium thrown in too, which makes this the most rounded energy bar I can remember coming across.
As a result, taxing effort in the saddle is supplemented by a top vitamin profile, which in turn helps boost immunity as well as improve energy release and recovery. While it's always difficult to quantify this, I can report that my performance on the bike was consistent and strong while using these bars, and I never found myself suffering from 'test fatigue', thanks to the flavour options I had.
Packaging is of a good quality and easy to open, and the bars sit well in your pockets as you ride along, dealing with repeated heat changes. Texture is also very good regardless of the flavour you choose – I didn't notice any excess grease or oil, yet the bars aren't too dry. I liked to take a swig of water whenever I had one, but there's nothing uncommon in that with whatever bar I eat.
As with most sports energy bars, they aren't cheap: they retail at an RRP of £19.08, but at the time of writing you can buy 12 bars for £13.99. That works out at £1.16 per bar – which for the energy and rounded profile they provide is remarkably good value.
At the end of the day, these bars contain lots of energy, a more comprehensive nutritional profile than I've seen in any energy bar, they taste very good, and are relatively good value if you scout around online. Therefore, I highly recommend them.
You won't fall off the cliff in a hurry with these bars
road.cc test report
Make and model: Clif Bar
Size tested: 68g
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Clif Bar says: "It's the first bar we made, and it's still everything we are about. Wholesome ingredients. Performance nutrition. And great taste. Whether you're on a 150-mile bike ride or exploring a new trail, this energy bar is built to sustain your adventure.
"Active individuals and athletes have high energy demands. With a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fibre, CLIF Bars supply working muscles with the energy they need for extended periods of activity. Thanks to their portability and great taste, CLIF Bars are a source of energy for athletes and active people who respect their bodies and the world around them."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
For best results, CLIF Bars should be eaten about one to three hours before exercise along with water to prevent hunger and supply energy to working muscles. During prolonged, lower intensity exercise such as hiking or bike touring, CLIF Bars can be eaten during activity to help satiate hunger and meet carbohydrate demands. CLIF Bars can also be eaten as a snack between meals or during a long, busy day to help sustain energy.
Nutritional Profile (per bar; based on Blueberry Crisp)
of Which Sugars: 25g
of Which Saturates: 0.5g
Vitamin A (μg): 300
Vitamin D (μg): 1
Vitamin E (mg): 4.4
Vitamin C (mg): 30
Thiamin (mg): 0.16
Riboflavin (mg): 0.26
Niacin (mg): 3
Vitamin B6 (mg): 0.4
Vitamin B12 (μg): 1
Calcium (mg): 150
Magnesium (mg): 55
Bars hold up well. They're not always completely uniform in size, but then that just gives an air of homemade-ness, which some will like.
About as good as I've seen - sustainable energy with a quick hit of sugar to deal with slumps. If you have a whole bar in one go, it's like a mini meal.
No complaints - they'll survive repeated transport on rides.
The RRP is on a par with most energy bars, but you get 68g worth of bar for your money, boosting value a little. Find them for a discount (as I have), and they're a smart, relatively cost-effective choice.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comprehensively well. I'm very impressed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Homemade feel (it doesn't taste or seem processed), and the great nutritional profile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Honestly, nothing springs to mind. One might argue that the varying nutritional contents based on flavour confuse the issue - but unless you're a top pro, I don't think this will have any effect at all on your performance, especially if you have a healthy general diet.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding