Energy bars sit between everyday food and energy gels on the buffet of on-bike nutrition.
Their taste and ingredients will closely resemble something you’d eat as a snack day-to-day, such as a cereal bar.
But the best energy bars’ nutritional value will be tailored more to the demands of cycling and other endurance sports, such as triathlon.
They should also be easier to unwrap, eat and digest while pedalling than most solid ‘real’ food, including sandwiches.
To avoid bonking on a long bike ride, you’ll need to stay fuelled with energy bars, among other snacks, so it’s crucial they taste good.
We’ve chewed through a selection of energy bars to find which ones hit the gastronomic and nutritional sweet spot.
Best energy bars for cycling 2022, as rated by our expert testers
Tribe Nut Butter Triple Decker
- Kcals: 184
- Fat: 12g
- Saturates: 3.8g
- Carbs: 9.6g
- Sugars: 5.8g
- Fibre: 3.2g
- Protein: 8g
- Salt: 0.21g
- Price: £22 for 12 (£1.83)
This nut-butter bonanza from Tribe has a texture and taste that’s top-notch.
It’s billed as the UK’s best-selling plant-protein bar and it’s easy to see why. The crunchy honeycomb base is covered in a thick peanut butter filling and finished off with a vegan chocolate topping.
The 40g bar comes in at just 184kcals with 8g from pea protein. Because it features just 9.6g carbs, plus 12g fat, this is definitely more snack/recovery bar than true energy bar.
But it’s good for vegans and coeliacs, too, plus it contains at least 50 per cent less sugar than the competitors here.
Clif Nut Butter Bar
- Kcals: 227
- Fat: 11g
- Saturates: 2.4g
- Carbs: 23g
- Sugars: 9.2g
- Fibre: 3.1g
- Protein: 7g
- Salt: 0.38g
- Price: £2.29
Clif makes palatable, moist and easily digested bars, and that continues with this organic 50g offering, though its 7g protein content suggests it’s more at home post-exercise than during.
That muscle-repairing sprinkling is pea protein. Total calorie count comes in at 227, of which 23g is from carbs and 11g from fat.
Again, it smacks of snacking over on-the-bike fuelling. And snack you might because this is a terrifically tasty package.
Sadly, for a brand proud of its eco credentials, marks are dropped due to the inclusion of palm oil.
Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar
- Kcals: 220
- Fat: 8g
- Saturates: 2g
- Carbs: 33g
- Sugars: 10g
- Fibre: 2g
- Protein: 4g
- Salt: 0.31g
- Price: £29.95 for 12 (£2.50)
Homemade snacks often have higher moisture content than commercial offerings, but that’s not an issue with this 50g chocolate chip and almond flavoured bar, thanks to the addition of cranberries plus the nut-and-seed butter blend.
Calorie content is 220kcals, comprised of 33g carbs, 8g fat and 4g protein.
Hence, its ‘anytime’ moniker, although it’s digested easily during exercise.
It’s tasty enough. Although you can taste the salt from the 125mg of sodium, this salt makes it ideal for big rides in the heat.
Torq Explore Flapjack
- Kcals: 263
- Fat: 8.1g
- Saturates: 1g
- Carbs: 43g
- Sugars: 23g
- Fibre: 3g
- Protein: 3.2g
- Salt: 0.19g
- Price: £37 for 20 (£1.85)
This black-forest flapjack is free from artificial colours, sweeteners and preservatives.
It’s also tasty, its sweetness deriving from organic golden syrup, raisins and brown sugar.
That sugar hit (43g carbs) cranks this 65g bar up to 263kcals with fat at 8.1g, predominantly down to sunflower oil – high in inflammatory Omega-6, but not great when riding hard.
Then again, these are designed for lower-intensity outings or as pre-rides snacks. You can consume post-ride, too, but the protein content is just 3.2g. It’s buttery, bordering on oily.
- Kcals: 310
- Fat: 14g
- Saturates: 1.2g
- Carbs: 37g
- Sugars: 25g
- Fibre: 4.8g
- Protein: 10g
- Salt: 0.2g
- Price: £2.99
Veloforte pushes the ‘natural food’ message, and the key ingredient of this dense 70g bar is hazelnuts.
They’re blended with dates, brown rice syrup, cocoa and pea protein for a total 310kcals, with 37g carbs, 14g fat and 10g protein.
This 4:1 carb:protein ratio has been shown to maximise the muscle-recovery process and is why this is billed as a protein bar.
Taste is good and it’s easily eaten. Just don’t expect a caffeine rush from this gluten-free and vegan bar, because the coffee’s decaffeinated.
High5 Energy Bar With Protein
- Kcals: 213
- Fat: 10g
- Saturates: 1.3g
- Carbs: 19g
- Sugars: 14g
- Fibre: Not listed
- Protein: 10g
- Salt: 0.16g
- Price: £19.99 for 12 (£1.67)
This sells itself as a protein energy bar. How does that work given protein’s primary role in exercise recovery?
Well, studies show that a little protein consumed during exercise can accelerate recovery once finished. The payback is that protein can (slightly) impair carbohydrate metabolism.
Because this 50g bar contains only 19g carbs and a pretty hefty 10g protein (plus 10g fat), this could be seen as more of a recovery than energy bar.
What’s clearer is that it’s suitable for vegans and the taste is passable.