The best 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.
However, the best energy bars’ nutritional value will be tailored more to the demands of cycling and other endurance sports, such as triathlon.
Like the best energy gels, 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.
If you like to consume some or even all of your carb requirements in liquid-form, don’t miss our buyer’s guide to the best energy drinks.
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 2023, as rated by our expert testers
- Kcals: 294
- Fat: 8.3g
- Saturates: 1.6g
- Carbs: 57.2g
- Sugars: 27.6g
- Fibre: 2g
- Protein: 2.1g
- Salt: 0.63g
- Price per bar: £2.50 as tested
The Styrkr Bar50 is a delicious, low-fat rice bar that’s easy to open, eat and digest on the bike.
With 57g of carbohydrates and 294kcals packed into a 75g serving, the Bar50 helps you achieve a high hourly carb intake.
The apple, cinnamon, caramel and sultana is our favourite of the three fantastic vegan, gluten-free flavours.
Considering the nutritional value, taste and all-natural ingredients, the Bar50 is excellent value.
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 per bar: £1.83/$1.62/€1.29/AU$2.12 as tested
Tribe claims its Nut Butter Triple Decker is the UK’s best-selling plant-protein bar. While we can’t vouch for that, the vegan and gluten-free bar tastes a treat.
Crunchy honeycomb is coated generously in peanut butter and topped with vegan chocolate.
With half as much sugar as some competitors, the 40g Triple Decker isn’t that carb-rich. It provides 184kcals and 9.6g of carbohydrate.
It has 8g of protein from peas, so probably suits snacking and recovery better than on-bike fuelling.
- Kcals: 260
- Fat: 8g
- Saturates: 1g
- Carbs: 32g
- Sugars: 17g
- Fibre: 5g
- Protein: 11g
- Salt: 0.23g
- Price per bar: £1.69/$2.03/€2.25/AU$2.97 as tested
The original Clif Bar has been around for many years, but it still packs a nutritional punch, with 38g of carbohydrates and a mix of fat and protein in each bar.
None of the flavours are overly sweet and are tasty enough to enjoy off the bike.
Our favourites are the almost-savoury Crunchy Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.
Five of the six flavours contain nuts. The one that doesn’t carries allergy warnings for soy, peanuts and nuts, milk, sesame, rye, triticale and wheat.
All flavours apart from Peanut Butter and Honey with Sea Salt are plant-based, according to Clif.
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 per bar: £2.29/$3.33/€2.96/AU$4.87 as tested
The Clif Nut Butter Bar packs 227kcals into its 50g, comprising 23g of carbs, 11g of fat and 7g of pea protein.
Such nutritional characteristics favour off-bike over on-bike consumption. But whenever you eat it, you’re in for a tasty snack that’s easy to eat and digest.
Disappointingly, the Clif Nut Butter Bar incorporates palm oil and is marked down as a result.
Rawvelo Organic Energy Bar
- Kcals: 192
- Fat: 7.8g
- Saturates: 0.9g
- Carbs: 24.4g
- Sugars: 17.5g
- Fibre: 5g
- Protein: 4.5g
- Salt: 0.1g
- Price per bar: £1.91/$2.43/€2.21/AU$3.70 as tested
The Rawvelo Organic Energy Bar delivers good all-round energy (approximately 24g carbohydrate per 45g bar), with a 3:1 ratio of carbs and fats.
Rawvelo says the bar’s low glycemic index stops your blood sugar levels spiking and crashing after eating one.
Of the five moreish flavours, our favourites were Chocolate Orange and Peanut Butter.
Dates are the principal ingredient of each bar, which are cold-pressed to preserve the all-natural ingredients’ nutritional value, according to Rawvelo.
All the bars are organic, vegan and free from preservatives, artificial flavourings and refined sugar. They do contain nuts.
Science in Sport Beta Fuel Energy Chew bars
- Kcals: 190
- Fat: 0g
- Saturates: og
- Carbs: 45g
- Sugars: 41g
- Fibre: 2.2g
- Protein: og
- Salt: 0.11g
- Price per bar: £2.20/$3.49/€3.11/AU$5.11 as tested
Science in Sport’s Beta Fuel Energy Chew bar delivers 46g of carbohydrate in 60g, using a 1:0.8 ratio of glucose to fructose.
SiS says this ratio, instead of the commonly applied 2:1, is scientifically proven to increase the efficiency of carbohydrate ingestion from 62 per cent to 74 per cent.
The Beta Fuel Energy Chew’s energy density of 21g of carbohydrate per £ is one of the highest we’ve tested.
Compared to Veloforte’s flatter, squarer energy chew products, the Beta Fuel Energy Chew is easier to handle, and pull from a jersey pocket and eat on the bike.
However, the chew softened up and became slicker when left against a warm back. This is a niggle in an otherwise very impressive energy bar.
The bar is also batch tested for banned substances and suitable for vegans.
Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar
- Kcals: 220
- Fat: 8g
- Saturates: 2g
- Carbs: 33g
- Sugars: 10g
- Fibre: 2g
- Protein: 4g
- Salt: 0.31g
- Price per bar: £2.50/$2.65
The Skratch Labs Anytime Energy Bar is chocolate chip and almond flavoured, moistened by cranberries and a mixture of nut and seed butter.
Energy provision from the 50g bar is 220kcals, made up of 33g carbs, 8g fat and 4g protein.
The bar lives up to its ‘Anytime’ tag and is no trouble to eat and digest while pedalling.
Taste is adequate. The salt from the 125mg of sodium makes itself known and could be handy during epic, hot rides.
Torq Explore Flapjack
- Kcals: 263
- Fat: 8.1g
- Saturates: 1g
- Carbs: 43g
- Sugars: 23g
- Fibre: 3g
- Protein: 3.2g
- Salt: 0.19g
- Price per bar: £1.20/$1.68/€1.50/AU$2.46 as tested
The Torq Explore Flapjack is a Black-Forest flavoured energy bar that’s tasty and calorific.
Organic golden syrup, raisins and brown sugar bring sweetness and 43g of carbs in the bar’s 65g weight. All the sugary stuff removes the need for sweeteners, as well as artificial colours and preservatives.
The Explore Flapjack contains 8.1g of fat, mostly from sunflower oil, which gives a buttery texture.
This high-fat content might be tricky to stomach while working hard, so having the Explore Flapjack before or during a steady-pace ride is advisable. The mere 3.2g of protein means it’s not the best recovery bar.
- Kcals: 310
- Fat: 14g
- Saturates: 1.2g
- Carbs: 37g
- Sugars: 25g
- Fibre: 4.8g
- Protein: 10g
- Salt: 0.2g
- Price per bar: £2.99/$4.27/€3.81/AU$6.25 as tested
The Veloforte Mocha is a palate-pleasing energy bar containing hazelnuts pulsed with dates, brown rice syrup, cocoa and pea protein.
Its nutritional value is 310kcals with 14g fat, 37g carbs and 10g protein. The near 4:1 carbon:protein ratio optimises muscle recuperation post-exercise.
The gluten-free and vegan Veloforte Mocha is chewable and tastes decent. But don’t hope for a caffeine buzz, because the coffee’s decaffeinated.
The following energy bars scored fewer than four stars, but are still worth considering if they meet your needs and you like the taste.
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 per bar: £1.67/$2.48/€2.21/AU$3.64 as tested
The High5 Energy Bar With Protein may sound like a contradiction in terms, since protein is most associated with post-training recovery.
But some cycling nutritionists advocate taking on an amount of protein on the bike, particularly on long rides, to speed up recovery once you’re back. The downside is protein impedes carbohydrate consumption.
Containing just 19g of carbs versus 10g of protein and 10g fat in its 50g, the vegan High5 Energy Bar With Protein could be better after a ride than during one.
The energy bar is palatable but won’t set your taste buds alight.
Named Sport Total Energy Fruit Bar
- Kcals: 128
- Fat: 1g
- Saturates: 0.2g
- Carbs: 28g
- Sugars: 15.4g
- Fibre: 1g
- Protein: 1g
- Salt: 0.14g
- Price per bar: £1.90/$2.32/€2.06/AU$3.39 as tested
The Named Sport Total Energy Fruit bar packs 23g of carbohydrates per 35g bar, with added vitamin C, B6 and Thiamine.
We found the Named Sport Total Energy Fruit bar was easy on the stomach and didn’t cause an unwanted spike in energy levels.
Our pick of the six flavours was pistachio, but its vibrant green colour can be off-putting.
Marzipan is the principal ingredient in each Total Energy Fruit Bar followed by puffed rice and fruit.
The Named Sport Total Energy Fruit Bar is relatively dry, so you’ll probably need to wash it down with water.
The bar is topped and bottomed with a rice-paper like wafer, which helps it to stay in one piece in a warm, potentially sweaty pocket.
All the flavours carry warnings of potential nut, soy and milk contamination. However, Named Sport says they are vegan and free from aspartame and acesulfame.
OTE Anytime Flapjack Bar
- Kcals: 255
- Fat: 10.8g
- Saturates: 5.1g
- Carbs: 35.1g
- Sugars: 24.2g
- Fibre: unspecified
- Protein: 2.5g
- Salt: o.1g
- Price per bar: £1.70/$2.20/€1.96/AU$3.32 as tested
The OTE Anytime Flapjack Bar is a good on- and off-bike snack. Each 62g bar provides around 35g of carbohydrates and some fat.
OTE claims the Anytime Flapjack Bar is nut- and gluten-free. But the Coconut Chocolate Chip flavour contains coconut, which many people with nut allergies are advised to avoid.
Of the nine other flavours, three are vegan and six are vegetarian. OTE says none contain artificial colourings, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives.
Enervit Carbo Bar C2:1PRO
- Kcals: 164
- Fat: 2.3g
- Saturates: 0.67g
- Carbs: 33.3g
- Sugars: 19.35g
- Fibre: Unspecified
- Protein: 2g
- Salt: 0.01g
- Price per bar: £2.30/$3/€2.50 as tested
The Enervit Carbo Bar C2:1PRO energy bar packs in 30g of carbohydrates in a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose, with added thiamine to support healthy energy release.
Consume three in an hour, and Enervit says the bars could help a rider absorb up to 90g carbs per hour with low gastric stress.
We found this difficult to achieve though, because the bar has the consistency of smooth fudge (the ‘no flavour’ version could easily be mistaken for fudge).
It’s pleasant at first, but after a single bar I found myself hankering after something less sweet and more textured.
Enervit says the C2:1 Pro Carbo Bar is plant-based and gluten-free. But the packaging has allergen warnings for milk, soybeans, nuts (and peanuts) and sesame seeds.