Nectar Sports Fuel Cell Energy Gel Sachets are carbohydrate-based energy gels from the people behind For Goodness Shakes recovery drinks. Like many gels these days, it's a mix of glucose and fructose, designed to deliver as much energy as possible. For some riders, though, it won't last long enough.
Previously on road.cc we've reviewed Nectar Sports Fuel; looking for all the world like a 2 litre can of bike wash, it's a syrup that which you mix with water to create a drink of the required strength. But the Fuel Cell under review here is a 'ready to go' gel, served up in small sachets to be eaten on the bike.
Each 40g sachet contains 20g of carbohydrate. Most cyclists, after an hour or two of fairly hard riding, need carbs to keep going, but the body can absorb a maximum of around 50g to 90g per hour (depending on exertion levels, body mass and the nature of the carb itself). So the 20g of carb in each Fuel Cell is enough for between about 15 and 30 minutes.
The main ingredients, according to the packaging, are simply water, maltodextrin and fructose. The packaging also highlights the 'dual-carb' formula – the combination of glucose and fructose – which is a more efficient way for the body to take on energy than via glucose alone.
We're testing the orange and lemon-lime flavours. The taste is light and not sticky, but with a bit of zing from the citrus which makes it pleasant on the taste-buds. Compared to gels from some other brands, the consistency is very 'thin' – more like a drink than a gel - which is not surprising, given that about half the content of a Fuel Cell is water. The blurb on the Nectar website dubs it a 'LiquiGel'.
On price, a box of 24 sachets costs £36 at Nectar's own Athlete Store on-line shop, which works out at £1.50 per sachet (although it's currently reduced to £33 with free shipping). On a crude carbs-per-quid basis the Fuel Cell (40g gel delivering 20g of carb for £1.50) does not compare well against similar products such as Bike Food Pure Energy (40g gel delivering almost 30g of carb for about £1.45), ZipVit (60g gel, 51g of carb, £1.50) or Sponser Liquid Energy Long (40g gel, 23g of carb, £1).
As with all energy products, a lot comes down to personal experience and preference. Based on our tests, if you're the type of cyclist that wants more bang for your buck and don't mind a gel that's a bit chewy, then Fuel Cells may not be the product for you. On the other hand, if you're the type of cyclist that finds other gels too 'thick' to stomach in one go, and you're looking for something with a nice non-sticky taste, then we'd recommend giving Fuel Cells a try.
Zingy-flavoured energy gel. Easy on the stomach, but not so easy on the wallet.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Nectar Sports Fuel Cell Energy Gel Sachets
Size tested: x
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 product is a carbohydrate-based energy gel. Nectar's own Athlete Store website says this: 'NECTAR Fuel Cell is the first compact LiquiGel that is easy to carry & easy to drink. When selecting your energy gels you have to choose between: 1. easy to drink, but big and bulky or 2. small & compact but sticky and hard to consume. However the NECTAR Fuel Cell combines the best of both worlds, compact AND easy to drink. The 2:1 dual carb source delivers up to 40% more energy to muscles and with its B-vitamin energy complex supports your energy metabolism helping to sustain energy for longer.'
Performance was good, in that on a couple of long rides I used some of these gels and they kept me going for a while. But not really long enough; personally, I prefer a gel with a higher carb content.
Each sachet weighs 40g, of which 20g is carb. The other 20g is water. The advantage of this is you need drink slightly less from your bottles. The disadvantage is you're carrying sachets half-full of water in your back pocket.
When compared to other gels on a crude carbs-per-quid basis, Nectar Fuel Cells are not good value. Even compared against gels from other brands with a similar carb:water ratio they're still not especailly good value.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Taste. Easy on the stomach.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Low carb content. Personally, I prefer a gel with a higher carb content.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes on taste. No on carb content.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were looking for a nice-tasting gel that was easy to consume.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
The taste is good, and the relatively low amount of carbs in Fuel Cells (20g in a 40g gel) will be a plus for some riders (because the consistency is easy to consume) but a minus for other riders (who just want as many carbs as possible packed in), so a score of 8 would be fair. Either way, though, the value is not good, so this gets a point knocked off, giving an overall score of 7.
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,