PowerBar is a long-standing sports nutrition brand, with a wide range of bars, gels, drinks and other products – including Powergel Shots. These are mini-gels with a firmer consistency than traditional sachet gels, and you get nine in a packet. They're a handy source of energy on long bike rides, although actually getting them out of the packet can be fiddly.
The main ingredients of Powergel Shots include glucose syrup, sugar and water. They come in two flavours, so the orange flavour Shots also includes orange juice concentrate and lemon peel extract, while the cola flavoured also include caffeine and liquorice extract. I'm testing the orange flavour here.
The flavour is undoubtedly orange, and the Powergel Shots are reminiscent of large Fruit Pastels in texture and taste, although not quite as sweet. Each Shot has an outer skin which is a bit chewy, and a very soft – almost liquid – centre.
I've used the Powergel Shots on a couple of long training rides, and they've been great. They definitely provide some energy and they're very tasty as well. In fact they're like sweets, but with the added benefit of providing useful calories rather than a sugar spike.
A packet of nine Shots weighs 60g, so a little over 6g per Shot, and provides just over 200kcal (around 880kJ) in the form of 48g of carb and 4g of protein. There's also a dash of fat and salt.
The only downside with Powergel Shots over normal gels is that the packet is fiddly to open when you're cycling, and popping nine individual mini-gels on the move takes a lot more skill and effort than necking a single gel from a sachet.
On the upside, though, if your stomach or tastebuds can't take a normal gel in one go, having a Shot every five or ten minutes might suit you better. You might also prefer them if you find traditional gels too sloppy, or sports bars or normal food too heavy to consume when you're exerting a lot of energy.
A single packet of nine Powergel Shots officially retails at £1.99, although you can find them a bit cheaper at sports stores or your local bike shop. If you buy in bulk, a box of 16 packets is £32, but you can find them at less than £20 at the usual online retailers.
Powergel Shots are expensive when compared on a blunt carbs-per-quid basis against a single 60g gel providing around 50g of carb (such as a ZipVit 7, about £1.50). When compared against similar products such as Multipower's Multicarbo Jelly (pack of 24 x 50g jellies for around £24) or the even more similar Clif Shot Bloks (pack of 8 x 60g 'sticks' for around £20), the Powergel Shots are fair value.
As with all nutrition products, you should try a packet of Powergel Shots when you're not training hard, and not the day before a big ride, to make sure the ingredients agree with you on a personal basis. If you like them, stick with them. If you don't, try something else.
Tasty mini-gels with a firm consistency. A handy source of energy on long bike rides, although can be fiddly to eat on the go
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Make and model: PowerBar Powergel Shots
Size tested: Orange flavour, 60g
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 an energy product, aimed at cyclists doing longer or harder rides, where normal food might not be available or suitable.
The Powerbar website says: "For intense training or competition you should refuel during exercise with up to 90g carbohydrates per hour depending on the intensity and duration. POWERGEL® SHOTS deliver the same function as PowerGels with a scientifically developed combination of different carbohydrate sources. They are designed for before and during sport, easy to portion and taste great!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The PowerBar website mentions the following key highlights:
"Five SHOTS deliver the same amount of carbohydrates as 1 PowerGel®
Unique taste experience through liquid filled centre of the shots
Cola flavour with 75mg caffeine to boost mental performance
With natural flavours - no preservatives* (*by law)
9 Shots in a resealable bag – easy to consume in individual shot portions"
Performance is very good in that the Powergel Shots provide energy in a tasty and easy-to-digest manner.
Compared against 'normal' gels, Powergel Shots are not cheap. But compared against similar products (such as Clif Shot Bloks and Multipower Jelly) value is fair.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, Powergel Shots performed well in that they provide energy in a tasty and easy-to-digest manner. However, getting the individual shots out of the packet when riding a bike is not easy – especially when trying to eat at least nine shots an hour, as the PowerBar website recommends – requiring frequent no-handed riding, which isn't always possible (or safe).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Taste and texture, welcome change to normal gels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very fiddly to consume on the move.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with the proviso about the fiddly packet
Use this box to explain your score
Overall, Powergel shots are great, in that they provide energy in a very tasty and effective manner. On this they'd score 9. However, while value is fair, it's not amazing. And the fiddly packet is annoying when you're trying to eat the shots while riding your bike. Those aspects knock off a couple of points.
Age: 53 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: Aluminium Marin Alp for audax riding and winter training, a steel Jensen for tootling and commuting, and a steel Cotswold My best bike is: a classic carbon Giant Cadex for sportives
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, trail riding, gravel riding and rough-stuff (off-road on a road bike)