These OTE Duo Bar Crispy Rice energy bars are incredibly tasty and easy to digest on the move, providing a great boost of energy to keep you pedalling.
My first experience of a dedicated cycling energy bar was a PowerBar back in the 1990s, the company that kicked off the whole sports nutrition thing. Thankfully, energy bars have come a long way from that overly chewy consistency product, which would go rock hard in cold weather.
The OTE Duo Bar Crispy Rice Bars are the best I've tested, and I've probably eaten my body weight in energy bars over the years. They remain soft and chewy even in cold weather, ideal given the winter we've just had.
OTE is a young brand in the highly competitive and lucrative nutrition market, but, founded by some of the people involved in Science in Sports, there's clearly a lot of knowledge and expertise behind the products. All your contact points with the brand, from the energy bar packaging to the website, reveal lots of detailed and easily accessible information. OTE isn't trying to blind you with science.
One bar provides 40g of carbohydrate, but rather neatly OTE has split the bar into two so you can ration your energy consumption in 20g carb bouts. That's useful if you're combining the bars with other sources of energy.
Ingredients include crisp rice, whole fruit concentrates and whole milk powder. As well as the 40g of carbs, each bar provides 4g of fat, which is low, and 10g of protein, which is a bit higher than most other energy bars. OTE has also managed to pack each bar with essential vitamins and minerals.
There are just two flavours to choose from, Chocolate Chip and Vanilla, and helpfully you can buy boxes containing both flavours. Each flavour is very palatable and not at all offensive on the taste buds, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be chocolate. They're gluten free, too.
Taste is very much a subjective thing, but the two flavours tested here passed the gruelling office test with flying colours. The great thing is that they don't have the 'I'm eating an energy bar, it's horrible but it's good for me' taste that a lot of them have. These are tastier than a lot of regular chocolate bars.
The bar has a rice crispy texture, an approach based on the rice cake energy bar concept that is popular with many of the professional race teams. It's sort of like a rice crispy chocolate snack you might make on a Saturday morning with your children.
It's unlike any other energy bars I've ever tried, which are generally a very smooth, dry or sticky formulation. The Duo Bar is a nice blend of chewiness with a bit of crunch, and soft enough that it breaks down very easily in your mouth and doesn't take much chewing. There's enough moisture in the bar that you don't need to instantly slurp on your water bottle, and it's not sticky like some bars that can be tricky to remove from the packaging and get clogged in your teeth.
The packaging is relatively easy to open on the move, but I'd like it if it was a little easier to initiate a tear, either with your teeth or riding no-handed. The size of the bars means you can easily rack a few up in a single jersey or jacket pocket. And because each energy bar is split into two, you can remove just half the bar easily, leaving the remainder in the packaging for later in the ride. That's a neat idea – eating half the bar at a time is just the right amount.
I usually only favour energy bars for big days in the saddle when I know I need to get enough into the tank, but the Duo Bars are so tasty I found myself using them on all my regular training rides. They're so yummy I looked forward to eating them, and regularly finished rides with lots of empty wrappers – rather than a pocketful of bars uneaten because they don't taste very nice.
Used regularly, the Duo Bars provide a nice steady release of energy, and they sit well on the stomach, even my delicate tummy. I could bosh down several of these on longer rides and still look forward to eating them, which I think makes a big difference when you're doing long and intense rides, when topping up your energy stores is essential to avoid grinding to a halt.
As with most energy products, they're far from cheap, but in OTE's defence they are priced in line with most others in the market. If you want to fuel correctly for a challenging ride and want the convenience and peace of mind offered by energy bars, these are among the best you can buy right now, in my opinion. They're very tasty, easy to digest, light on the stomach and go down well even when you're on your fourth or fifth. They also make handy mid-afternoon snacks, and with the extra protein make a good post-ride snack as well.
Super-tasty and easy to digest energy bars – the best I've tested
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road.cc test report
Make and model: OTE Duo Bar Crispy Rice Bar
Size tested: Vanilla/Chocolate
Tell us what the product is for
OTE says, "Great tasting, easily digested carbohydrate energy bar made from crispy rice and milk chocolate chips. Designed and developed by professional sports nutritionists to fuel and maximise your workout."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
OTE Duo Bar has been developed with professional sports nutritionists and professional cycling teams to replicate the rice cake concept used by the teams in World Tour races. Each Duo Bar is pre-cut into two equal pieces with each piece delivering 20g of carbohydrate. This makes the Duo Bar very easy to use as part of our OTE Energy System.
High in carbohydrate, Duo Bar provides an alternative source of carbohydrate to energy drinks and gels if you prefer to take solid food on board during exercise. The bar has been designed to be great tasting, easily digested, light on the stomach and supply enough energy for 40-60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise.
Duo Bar can be used before, during or after exercise, or as an alternative healthy snack when on the go. If you are pushed for time prior to exercise and struggling to take the necessary carbohydrate on board to fuel your workout, taking a DUO Bar 1-2 hours before exercise will give you that carbohydrate boost you need.
Duo Bars are manufactured in an informed sport certified facility.
Priced in line with others on the market, though you can pay more. A Snickers or banana is cheaper, but if you want a nutritionally balanced energy bar and don't want to make one yourself, this is a good choice.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Delivers sustained energy on longer rides when you need it most, with no digestion or stomach issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to eat and super-tasty. I like the split bar design, a great idea.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Packaging could be a bit easier to tear open 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
Use this box to explain your overall score
Not cheap but convenient, tasty, good carb and protein mix, and easy to digest. The OTE Duo Bars are the best I've tried, easy to recommend, and really do warrant 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.