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SiS has been in the sports food business for over two decades, with a large range of nutrition products for cyclists and other athletes, including this new Go Gel + Caffeine. As well as carbohydrates for energy, this gel also contains caffeine to enhance mental and physical performance. It tastes good, slips down easily, and definitely provides a kick when you need it.
These days, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to energy products, including SiS's own isotonic Go Isotonic Gels, which are specifically designed to combine about 20g of carb with about 40g of water, so you don't need to drink from a separate bottle to help swallow the gel or to make it more effective as a source of energy (as you do with some other gel brands).
Go Gel + Caffeine uses a very similar formula to regulr Go Isotonic Gel, with the main ingredients including water and maltodextrin (from maize) and each 60g gel providing 21g of carb, with the addition of 75mg of caffeine.
The SiS website says: 'The addition of caffeine has been repeatedly shown by sport scientists to improve performance by providing both a physical and mental boost.' Having tested this gel towards the end of a long sportive I can say it definitely works.
With about 15 miles to go and the pace high, my legs were starting to tire. I necked one of these gels and instantly felt the benefits. Whereas I might have faded on the final hills, I was able to keep going and finish in style rather than as a shattered wreck. Yes, it might all be perception, but the end result is the same, and on that basis I'd recommend these gels as well worth a try.
While I found it useful at the end of a long ride, at the other end of the scale, some riders take a caffeine gel before a crit or short time trial when they need a mental and physical boost right from the gun. Either way, for most riders, 21g of carb provides enough energy for between 15 and 30 minutes on the bike, depending how hard you're riding and other aspects such as physiology.
Likewise, the 75mg of caffeine will have a physical and mental effect that varies from rider to rider.
The SiS website also says you could take these gels during a ride and recommends consuming up to three sachets per 60 minutes as required, but no more than four sachets per day. There may be sound scientific reasons for recommending this many gels, although a cynic might say it's more to do with sales figures. Personally, I found one or two gels was enough, and found them more effective towards the end of a long ride, in the same way as cup of coffee is more effective if you haven't had one for a while.
As with all energy products, whether you take one gel or four, and whether it's before a ride, halfway through, or towards the end - or all three - you'll need to do a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you.
Finally, the weight if these gels is worth noting. At 60g they're pretty bulky, and with 21g of carb you're carrying 39g of other stuff – mainly water – in your back pocket. There's nothing wrong with that. SiS emphasise that it's a deliberate strategy so you can refuel and hydrate at the same time. This is great for runners or other athletes that have to wait to reach a drink station or a break in play before they can get any liquid, but it's not such a big deal for cyclists who will usually have a bottle or two on their bike that can be reached at any time.
If you're a rider who likes to combine liquid intake with carb intake, then SiS gels are ideal. But if you prefer to get your liquid from your bottles, and carry less weight in your back pocket (or at least, more carbs for the weight) then there are other gels available.
On price, one Go Gel + Caffeine costs £1.79 with a box of 30 costing £48 (so about £1.60 each). This compares to other caffeinated gels, such as Zipvit's ZV7c (about £1.80 when bought singly) or Mule Bar's Kick gel (£36 for a box of 24, ie £1.50 each), making the SiS gels fair value.
High performing gel with carbohydrates for energy and caffeine for enhanced results. It tastes good, slips down easily, and provides a noticeable kick when required.
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Make and model: Science in Sport Go Gel Cola Plus Caffeine 60ml
Size tested: N/a
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 product is an energy gel, designed for consumption before or during a training ride, race or sportive. The SiS website says it's an: 'Energy gel with added caffeine to provide a mental and physical boost' with the following key features:
* 21.5 grams of carbohydrate per gel
* Formulation delivers energy fast
* 75mg of caffeine per gel
* Suitable for Vegans
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The SiS website goes on to say the Go Gel + Caffeine 'builds on the established science of the Go Isotonic Gels by not only delivering a rapid supply of easily digestible carbohydrates (21.5 grams per gel) for energy but also, providing 50 mg of caffeine per gel. The addition of caffeine has been repeatedly shown by sport scientists to improve performance by providing both a physical and mental boost just when we need it.'
The 50g seems to be be a misprint. Elsewhere on the site the caffeine amount is 75mg.
The website continues: 'Caffeine has been shown to have many physiological benefits during exercise that can collectively improve performance. It is also scientifically believed that caffeine can increase fat utilisation and therefore effectively sparing the use of our limited carbohydrate stores for later use during exercise. As such, we now have more carbohydrate available for when we really need it such as those hard parts of the training session or race.'
Performance is very good. This gel does exactly what it's supposed to do: provide some energy with an extra 'boost' to improve mental and physical performance
At 60g these gels are pretty bulky. With 21g of carb you're carrying 39g of other stuff – mainly water – in your back pocket. There's nothing wrong with that. SiS emphasise that it's a deliberate strategy so you can refuel and hydrate at the same time. If you're a rider who like to combine liquid intake with carb intake, then SiS gels are ideal. But if you prefer to get your liquid from your bottles, and carry less weight in your back pocket (or at least, more carbs for the weight) then there are other gels available.
Value is fair, but the price of the SiS Go Gel + Caffeine (60g gel, 21g carb, 75mg caffeine, £1.60) is not a bargain when compared against similar products such as:
High5 Energy Gel Plus (38g gel, 20g carb, 30mg caffeine, £1.30)
ZipVit ZV7c (60g gel, 50g carb, 160mg caffeine, £1.80)
MuleBar Kicks gel (37g gel, 27g carb, 100mg caffeine, £1.50)
But for most riders it won't be matter of price. It'll be a matter of personal preference on the texture of the gel (ie, thick or thin) and toleration of the caffeine levels.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This gel performed very well overall, and does exactly what it's supposed to do: provide energy plus an extra 'boost' to improve mental and physical effects.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Noticeable caffeine kick
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not really "dislike", but I prefer gels with a higher carb content - although that's a personal thing
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Personally no, as I prefer gels with a higher carb content.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they liked to combine liquid intake along with carb intake.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is an excellent product deserving a score of 9, but the price (although fair) isn't a bargain so a point knocked off, giving an overall score of 8.
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
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,