We've tested Powerbar's flagship energy drink on road.cc before, but back then it was called 'Energize'. It's recently been replaced by this new 'PowerBar Isoactive Isotonic Sports Drink' variety, so we're testing it again.
The formulation is slightly different, but overall the principle is the same: this product comes as a powder which you add to water to get a drink that contains a mix of carbohydrates to deliver and sustain energy, plus a bundle of essential minerals to help you avoid cramp.
First up, let's look at those carbs. Along with several other brands, Powerbar include both glucose and fructose in the list of ingredients. Powerbar's marketing team have called this 'C2MAX'.
The amount of glucose you can convert to energy is normally limited to around 60g per hour, but the additional fructose means you can increase this amount because (to put it in layman's terms) fructose enter your bloodstream by a different mechanism.
The end result is more energy, which helps you go faster or further, or just go the same speed and distance more easily.
Next, those minerals. These are useful because they replace the essential minerals or electrolytes in your body that you lose via perspiration when cycling, and this replacement helps you avoid cramp.
Sodium, potassium and magnesium are commonly found in mineral/electrolyte drinks from other brands, but this PowerBar Isoactive drink also adds chloride and calcium to the mix, claiming to be 'the first sports drink on the market to provide the body with all five main electrolytes ... in the ratio lost through sweat.'
So does this mix of carb and minerals work? Yes. It definitely works for me.
I've used PowerBar Isoactive on several test rides, and I've found it provides a good supply of energy for long and medium rides, and also helps keeps the dreaded cramps at bay.
Will it work for you? That depends. Every rider has slightly different requirements in terms of carb and mineral intake, but based on my experience I'd recommend this drink as well worth trying.
It's available in three flavours: Lemon, Orange and Red Fruit Punch. I was testing the latter.
Despite looking like dentists mouthwash, this drink doesn't taste of much at all. It's neither sweet, sharp or sticky. I guess that means it's neutral.
If you don't like the strong taste of some other energy drinks, this will be a good thing. On the other hand, if you need a tasty drink to encourage you to keep hydrated, this neutrality may not be so useful.
PowerBar Isoactive is available in various quantities: a big 1320g tub costs £17.99 on the PowerBar website; a 600g tub is £8.99; a pack of five sachets (each holding 33g of powder, enough for one 500ml bottle) is £4.95; and a pack of 20 sachets is £19.80.
You can find the same stuff for around the same price at your local bike shop or a bit cheaper at the usual on-line stores.
Gives a good supply of energy and minerals to help avoid cramp. Neutral taste, and good value too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: PowerBar Isoactive Isotonic Sports Drink
Size tested: Red Fruit Punch
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?
This is a carb-based energy drink, aimed at cyclists (and other athletes) to use before and during activity such as races, sportives or longer training rides.
The PowerBar website says Isomax is special [because it] is the first sports drink on the market to provide the body with all 5 main electrolytes ... The C2MAX carb mix contains a special ratio of glucose and fructose sources. Consumed regularly during exercise, this mix can increase the amount of energy to muscles by as much as 55%."
While Isomax may have been the first product on the market with five minerals, it's certainly not the only one. Mineral replacement tablets from at least one other brand also contain those five same minerals, although quantities may vary.
The 'special ratio' of glucose to fructose is not revealed. The ingredients list says only: "Glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, minerals (sodium citrates, sodium chloride, calcium gluconate, potassium chloride, magnesium citrates, calcium lactate), flavouring, citric acid, hibiscus extract, beetroot juice powder, anticaking agent (silicon dioxide). May contain traces of gluten, egg, milk, soy and nuts."
The PowerBar website also says says this drink mix contains no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A 33g serving of powder (the recommended amount to add to 500ml of water) gives just under 500KJ or 116 Kcal of energy, consisting of 29g of carb. There's virtually no protein or fat. The proportion minerals per 33g serving are quoted as: sodium 0.42g; chloride 356mg; potassium 109mg; calcium 59mg; magnesium 22mg. The PowerBar website contains more nutritional information.
Performance is very good. For long rides, most riders will consume this drink alongside another source of carb such as bars and gels.
Some riders will also prefer to take on additional protein or caffeine. But as a supply of carb and minerals, this Isoactive drink definitely does the job.
If you buy this drink mix in individual 33g sachets, you're paying around £1 per serving.
A big 1320g tub of drink mix costs a penny under £18, and is much better value, working out under 50p per serving - obviously even less if the recommended retail price is further discounted.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a supply of carb and minerals, overall this drink performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Neutral taste. All-in-one supply of various carbs and minerals.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
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, general fitness riding,