Science In Sport GO Plus Nitrates Gel contain nitrates, which can be beneficial to performance, so this gel might appeal to racers and sportivistes looking to improve.
The theory goes like this: the nitrates in the gel convert to nitrate oxide inside your body, which causes blood vessels to open, which in turn improves blood flow, which then means better oxygen supply gets to the muscles, which some sports science studies show can help you go faster, or further, or both.
The gel packaging recommends taking two gels per day for 3 to 6 days leading up to your ride. The SiS website recommends two to three gels for 3 to 5 days. So the advice is a bit inconsistent, but the overall idea is clear.
Does it work in practice? Based on a recent - and admittedly very unscientific - test, I'd say yes. I followed the packaging's recommended regime in the week leading up to a big sportive, and then during the sportive itself I went pretty well. (100 miles in less than 6 hours, thanks for asking.)
Of course it might not have been the SiS nitrate gels. It could have been the food I ate, the new chain on my bike, or any number of other things. But based on my experience, and if you're the type of rider always looking to gain an extra edge, I'd recommend giving SiS nitrate gels a try.
The main ingredient of these gels is chard (SiS call it Swiss chard; it's also known as spinach beet or silver beet, and is related to beetroot, although on this plant the leaf is the major source of nutrition rather than the root). There's also maltodextrin (from maize) and a bit of rhubarb juice, plus various sweeteners, preservatives and gelling agents.
There's also a lot of water, meaning GO Gel plus Nitrates is actually more like a drink than a gel, so it's a bit sloppy in the sachet, but that's not an issue as you're taking this gel at home or pre-ride, rather than actually consuming it on the bike.
This gel is available in only one flavour: peach. I couldn't detect the taste of this fruit but I did get a hint of rhubarb, which gives the gel a slightly bitter tang. It's not delicious but it's OK.
On cost, these gels retail at £1.90 each on the SiS website, or six for about £10, or 30 for £50. They're are also available at your local bike shop or sports store (and in some supermarkets). There are not many products from other manufacturers to compare this nitrate gel against in terms of price, although taking up to 15 of these babies before your big ride isn't going to be cheap - especially if you do a big ride every weekend. In reality, this might be something you'd use occasionally, before major events once per month for example, or a few times a year.
But in the end, it's not really a case of cost. It's a case of do you need this kind of product? I'd say it's definitely not essential for the vast majority of riders who just enjoy being out on their bikes. But if you're a rider always looking for an extra edge, I'd say it's worth a try. If you feel an improvement, stick with it. If you don't, then leave it.
Could aid racers and sportivistes looking to go faster, or further, or both. Maybe
road.cc test report
Make and model: Science In Sport GO Plus Nitrates Gel
Size tested: Peach flavour
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 gel designed to be taken before a big ride. It's not for consumption during the ride. It contains relatively little carbohydrate (8g in a 60g gel). If you use Go Gels plus Nitrates before the ride, you'll need your usual source of energy (gels, bars, drinks, normal food, whatever) during the ride.
The SiS website says of GO Gel + Nitrates: "The world's first nitrate gel to improve energy efficiency during exercise:
* 250 mg nitrate per gel
* Made with real vegetable sources
* Easy to digest and light on the stomach"
As with any new product, try this gel during a training ride, just to make sure it agrees with you. Don't use it for the first time before an important race or sportive.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Sis website goes on to say "Elevating nitrate stores before exercise has been shown to reduce the amount of oxygen required to perform at a given workload, effectively meaning it takes less physical effort to exercise at the same speed or power output. Additionally, elevated nitrate levels can also increase power output, improve race time and delay the onset of fatigue during moderate to high-intensity exercise. As such, the SiS GO Gel + Nitrates represents a truly world leading, innovative and highly practical strategy to make your muscles more efficient, thereby improving your race day performance."
Various sports science studies show the benefits of nitrates for athletes. Based on my own (non-scientific) test, performance seems to be very good.
Value is hard to pin down. The cost of £1.90 is about par for a 60g gel, but most gels are carb-only so it's not comparing like-for-like. Other nitrate products include Sponser's Red Beet Vinitrox (reviewed previously on road.cc), which costs £3 per shot, so is more than this SiS nitrate gel. But you take Vinitrox only once before a big ride, not up to 15 times as with the SiS product, so there's an obvious costs difference.
Of course, a cynic might say that recommending the athlete takes this many gels is a simple marketing ploy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This product is designed to help you go further or faster in a race or sportive. Based on my experience (admitedly a very non-scientific test), this product performed as it should, in that using it seemed to help me do a good ride in 100 mile sportive.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, I'd consider buying it occasionally to use before major events.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, I'd recommend they try it.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
In assessing this product's overall score, the two key factors are performance and price. Based on my experience, performance is very good, so these gels earn a score of 8. However, while the price is fair, it can't be called good value, which docks a point, giving an overal score of 7.
About the tester
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,