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Bacx Performance Fuel is a plant-based concentrate designed to provide energy and hydration while exercising. The key thing for me is that the subtle and palatable flavour is easy on the stomach, and pleasurable to drink even on very hot days.
The Bacx is available in two flavours, one of which is orange, and the other that we have here, berry flavoured. On the bike I'm not a fan of overly sickly and sweet gels or drinks, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Bacx is neither of those.
The main ingredient is sweet potato juice concentrate, followed by coconut water concentrate and brown rice syrup (a few others in between listed in the test report section) and then natural raspberry and blueberry flavouring.
It's vegan friendly, contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colours or flavours. There is also no caffeine or maltodextrin.
In each pouch you get 20g carbohydrate, so 100g per litre if you mix one pouch per 200ml. For the type of riding I tend to typically do, which are shortish rides at quite a high intensity, Bacx recommended two pouches in 400ml of water. That would give 40g carbs as well as 2,400mg of aminos and 1,360mg of electrolytes.
My last ride as I write this was 1hr 45mins with 54% at threshold, 40% aerobic and a few bits either side of those, for reference, with an average heart rate of 155bpm. For this kind of ride, I found the mix worked very well, but if I'm honest I could easily drop to half of that for the same session. I'm not much of an eater or drinker on the bike, and I do a lot of my rides first thing, fasted.
On the days that I used the Bacx to those ratios, though, I was less fatigued in the afternoon when heading out for a run or something similar.
The key point for me, though, is that the drink is very palatable even at the strongest mix, which stops stomach irritation and allows you to keep on drinking it throughout the day on longer rides.
As it's mixed with water, all you need to carry with you is a pouch or two on a ride and mix it up mid-ride after a water stop if necessary.
The Performance Fuel is available in packs of 10 pouches at a time for £23.30 if it's a one-off purchase, or £19.81 if you go for a 'cancel anytime, monthly subscription', which works out as a 15% discount.
Bacx says that the pouches are recyclable, with the orange having a code '5' rating which is PP (polypropylene), which means it can be recycled, although you have to check with your local authority. The berry packaging is code '7' which means a product made of multiple plastic types, or out of types of plastics that can't easily be recycled.
Checking the Wiltshire council website for whether I could put these pouches into my recycling bin wasn't that clear, as it doesn't mention specific codes. It did say that animal food pouches and the like aren't acceptable. This may or may not be an issue for you, I just thought I'd mention it.
With this 10-pack, you are looking at £2.33 per portion (£1.98 subscription), and regardless of how much liquid you use you are getting 20g of carbohydrates per pouch. By mixing it with water I'd consider this an energy drink rather than a gel, even if it is a liquid in the pouch, so it's kind of unique, as many drinks are made using powder.
High5's Energy Drink, for instance, gives 44g of carbohydrates in a 500ml drink and costs £1.25 per 47g powder serving. It contains a blend of maltodextrin and fructose for the carbohydrates. To achieve that amount of carbs in a 500ml drink from the Bacx it'll be £4.66.
The Skratch Labs Super High-Carb that Suvi is currently testing is non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, vegan and Kosher, and a 105g serving to 500ml of water gives 100g of carbohydrate. At £41.95 for a pouch with eight servings, each one will cost you £5.24.
Overall, the Bacx Performance Fuel worked well for me, mostly because of how palatable and digestible it is. Having a subtle flavour and no sickliness meant that I could drink plenty of it without any nauseating side effects. It's at the higher end of the market, price-wise, but if you want to avoid things like maltodextrin or unnatural ingredients then it might well be worth the extra cost.
Tastes great and gives a decent dose of energy, although it's pricier than most
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BACX Performance Fuel - 10 pack
Size tested: 10 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?
Bacx says, "BACX will show you that performance energy supplements can be enjoyed, not just endured. Mixed with water, the all-plant concentrate gives complete nutrition to keep you energised, hydrated and feeling good, in sports and adventure. It's vegan friendly, contains no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colours or flavours, no caffeine or maltodextrin, and is free of the 14 major allergens."
It tastes very good and the natural ingredients should please many.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ingredients: Water, Sweet Potato Juice Concentrate, Coconut Water Concentrate, Brown Rice Syrup, Agave Nectar, Carthamus (Safflower) Concentrate, Vegan Amino Acid Blend*, Natural Orange Flavouring, Natural Flavouring, Colour: Carotenes, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate.
* L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Arginine
An easy-to-digest blend of ingredients that tastes good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Easy to digest and doesn't taste sickly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pricey per portion for everyday use.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
If it is just a carbohydrate punch you are after you can get higher numbers from cheaper portion sizes in other products – by a considerable margin. Not all carbohydrates are equal though, and those that move away from maltodextrin for instance tend to be more expensive. Like the Skratch mentioned in the review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, if I needed something for an event.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Per serving, Bacx isn't cheap, and that'll soon rack up if you are using it for every ride. The fact that it doesn't taste overly sweet and doesn't upset your stomach means it is ideal for race day, though, and goes some way to offset the price and give it a 'good' rating overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!