SIS (Science in Sport) are probably best-known among cyclists for their consume-on-the-move carbohydrate-based energy gels, bars and drinks. The new Build Bar is a mix of carbohydrate and protein. Throwing protein into the mix is a first for SIS on a bar product, although several other manufacturers have offered carbo-and-protein bars and drinks for some time.
The Build Bar weighs in at 55g - consisting of 20g protein and 21g carbo (of which 18g is sugars). Fats, and a trace of fibre and sodium make up the rest. According to the wrapper, the energy value energy value is 937Kj or 222Kcal per stick (or 1704Kj/404Kcal per 100g).
The main ingredients include a blend of wheat gluten, whey, soy and milk proteins, glucose syrup, chocolate and peanuts. The label also highlights the inclusion of green tea extract and L-cartinine - around 0.15% of each.
What does a Build Bar taste like? Very good indeed. A chocolate coating, with the flavour and texture of the inside bar reminiscent of caramel slice, or even - thanks to those peanuts - an old-skool Marathon bar. Yes, I know they’re called Snickers now, but I’m slow to adapt. Either way, you’ll have no problem enjoying this on your next bike ride.
But do you need protein on a bike ride? It depends. Basically, in events of around two hours or less, you need only carbohydrate to keep going. Over two hours, and definitely over four hours, you need a bit of protein because - to put it in the simplest layman’s terms - it helps the carbo work better. The sports scientists generally agree that the protein won’t necessarily make you go any faster, but it will help you go for longer - which is exactly what you need in a 100-mile sportive, or any other long-distance endurance event.
The scientist and nutritionists also emphasise the importance of protein after a race or long ride to help muscle repair and recovery. And the SIS website seems to promote this aspect of the Build Bar:
‘Easy to store in car, kit bag or at office so it can be consumed immediately after exercise or as a high protein snack at any time during the day without the need of mixing a protein or recovery drink.’
So even if you didn’t munch a Build Bar on the bike, you might tuck into one when you get home - although a recent study pointed out that a bowl of muesli with milk will do the same job as any protein recovery product. But then it depends what you feel like eating immediately after six or seven hours non-stop in the saddle.
I’ve tried a lot of carbo-and-protein mix products over the past couple of years, and the Build Bar is already a definite favourite. I tested two in a recent sportive, eating one at about 50 miles and the other at about 70 miles, and they went down well.
The only complaint I have is about melting-point. After a couple of hours in my back-pocket, the Build Bars’ chocolate coating had gone gooey, and was (i) harder to get out of the wrapper, and (ii) messy on the chops. But, to be fair, SIS aren’t promoting it as an eat-on-the-bike product. If you keep your food in a tri-bag, or just eat the Build Bar after an event, you’ll be fine.
Actually, make that two complaints.
The bars cost £1.79 each. Also available in bulk at a slightly lower price, direct from SIS or other on-line shops.
Overall, I’d recommend the Build Bar as worth trying. As with all energy products, only trial and error will help you find what works best for you, but this is a good one to consider adding to your armoury.
road.cc test report
Make and model: SIS Build Bar
Size tested: N/A
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
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,