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The Kendal Mint Co NRG Gels are soft on the stomach, seem to keep your energy levels up, and the design of the packaging is simple to use on the go. The flavours were a little hit or miss for me, but that's entirely subjective.
Before we start, it is worth noting two things: I am a big fan of mint-flavoured things; I'm not a big user of gels.
The reason I don't typically use gels is because I have had some less than pleasant experiences with them: an upset stomach several times, and I also find the stickiness and mess they can cause annoying. Stuff a used gel wrapper in a jacket or gilet pocket and you end up with things stuck to the inside of your pocket until you wash it. Grrr.
I have been using Kendal Mint Co (KMC) products for years, though, so I was particularly interested in trying these out. They are for use as both a 'before' and 'during' gel, so should set you up and keep you going.
My biggest bugbear with a lot of gels is stomach friendliness, and I am happy to say that I didn't have any problems with these at all. Admittedly, the most I used in one ride was two, across around 3.5 hours, and I suffered no stomach issues at all. KMC claims that this comes from the gel being naturally easy to digest as peppermint extract is 'a natural anti-inflammatory scientifically proven to help promote digestion'. I can't test to see if this is true, but it is certainly more stomach-friendly than others I have used.
As you may expect from a gel from KMC, all have mint within them. The flavours I tested were chocolate mint, citrus and mint, and mint (raspberry and mint is available too). I am a lover of mint and really liked the chocolate and citrus mixes, but the plain mint was a little much – it tasted a bit too much like toothpaste for my liking. That said, it definitely cleared the airways and meant my breath smelt great for the rest of the ride!
In terms of their actual nutritional impact, as with all energy gel makers there are a number of claims from KMC. For instance, they combine maltodextrin and fructose at a 2:1 ratio, which improves carbohydrate absorption, and use +b vitamins to further breakdown carbohydrates. I have no way of testing these claims, but can say that after using these energy gels I didn't bonk (completely run out of energy); I didn't have any dips in energy levels and felt a little kick a few minutes after use. These were moderate-longish rides, between 2-4 hours, with some high intensity periods, but mainly sitting in at around 70% effort.
The actual breakdown of the gels shows that each serving provides 108kcal of energy from 27g of carbohydrate, of which 10.7g is sugar. If you compare this to similarly priced gels, such as OTE's Blackcurrant gel with 82kcal, 20.1g of carbohydrate and 5.2g of sugar, it's a good ratio. The Maurten gels that Jim tested a while back pack 25g of carbohydrate, all of which is claimed to be sugar and 100kcal of energy per 45g pouch.
They're good value too. They come in packs of 12 or 24, costing £15.99 and £29.99 respectively, equating to £1.33 or £1.24 per 70g sachet. The Maurten gels are £2.85 per 45g sachet (and didn't leave Jim overly impressed), while the OTE Blackcurrant gels are £1.50 per 56g sachet.
Overall, I was really impressed with these gels, particularly having had bad experiences with others. I found that they gave me a good boost, were kind on my stomach, easy to use, and opened the airways too. The flavours are bold, though the straight mint flavour in particular may be a bit much for some.
Comfortable on the stomach, good range of flavours, and competitively priced
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kendal Mint Co NRG Gels
Size tested: 12 Pack
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?
KMC says, 'Fast & Effective Energy Gels in a range of Powerful & Refreshing Flavours that are Kind on the stomach. Gluten Free & Vegan.'
They are for use either before or during a ride; I found the mint flavour helps to open to airways and prevent stomach issues.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Intelligent Dual-Carb
- Electrolyte and B Vitamin formula
- Vegan & Gluten Free
Easy-to-rip packaging makes single-hand use easy.
Didn't upset the stomach, kept my energy levels up.
Good value compared to others, although you can only buy in bulk.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They performed well, offering an energy boost without causing any stomach issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Kind on the stomach.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The plain mint flavour was perhaps a little bit like toothpaste.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Maurten gels come in at £2.85 per gel. Torq energy gels are £1.85 per gel. OTE Blackcurrant gels are £1.50.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Competitively priced and perform well, while being gentle on the stomach. The packaging makes them easy to use on the bike, and they open up the airways.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.