Only you can decide what balance of carbs, protein and fat you need from your energy snacks and nutrition products, but here's a quick round-up of the latest options to hit our desks, along with a couple of other health-related products.
9-Bar nutrition bars
Each of these bars is made up of at least 55 percent seeds – a nutritionally dense food with an abundance of minerals, vitamins and essential amino and fatty acids. Available in five different varieties – original, pumpkin, organic, nutty and flax – they're dairy-, gluten- and wheat-free, and contain omega-3 and omega-6.
The original bar contains a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp and poppy seeds, and 9-Bar reckon it'll give you a great energy boost when you're feeling the pace during a long ride. We found it tasty, but it might be a bit too much to eat when you're actually riding. The five-bar sampler pack we tried costs £3.50, including delivery. Head to www.9-bar.co.uk for more information.
Multipower protein bar
Intended for eating immediately after training, these 50g Multipower bars contain 25g of protein, along with 12.5g of carbs and just 4.2g of fat. Running in at 173kcal per bar, they should make an ideal post-ride snack to aid recovery and rebuild muscle. The chocolate flavour has a typical malty energy bar taste and the coconut version also went down well. At £48 for 24 bars they aren't cheap, but Multipower do offer three for two when buying directly from their website, www.multipoweruk.com.
ZipVit energy products
ZipVit offer a wide range of energy drinks, gels and bars. The ZV10 Energy Chews (£1.99) provide 46g of easily digested carbs per pack of eight (60g) and should help to reduce fatigue during long rides. Pomegranate and watermelon seemed like an odd flavour combination but went down well with the BikeRadar crew.
The blackcurrant-flavoured 60ml ZV7 gel (£1.49) contains 51g of carbohydrate and has an energy content of 153.9kcal; it's also available with caffeine in the form of the ZV7C (£1.75). For those who prefer a traditional energy bar, there's the 55g, strawberry-flavoured ZV8 (£1.30), with 214kcal. For more information, visit www.zipvit.co.uk.
Bikefood energy drink mix
This 'natural berry' flavoured 47g sachet passed the taste test, and is easily digested. This 167.3kcal drink is designed to be taken before, during or after a ride. And at £1.30 per sachet, or £22 for a box of 20, it compares well price-wise with similar products. More information can be found at www.mybikefood.com.
Orbana healthy energy
If you don't want a sports drink filled with artificial sweeteners and caffeine, then Orbana may be something worth looking at. Its healthy ingredients, which include B vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids, are designed to help sustain performance without the 'spike and crash' effect that some other drinks can give. Containing17.7g of carbs per 100ml, it certainly did the trick when we tried it, although it tastes strongly of pineapple with a slight sodium bicarbonate aftertaste.
The powder should be mixed with water and consumed 20 minutes before your ride. Orbana say powdered energy drinks are a better alternative to pre-mixed drinks, as vitamins and amino acids lose their potency over long periods of dilution. But at £10.80 per pack of six 50g sachets, they may be a bit pricey for some. Visit www.orbana.com for more information.
USN Epic Pro powder
USN's all-in-one powder is designed to aid performance before, during and after your ride, so it's something of a one-stop-shop performance drink. Packing in 280kcal per 75g serving, its tropical flavour is pretty palatable too. It aims to improve recovery and help prevent muscle soreness. RRP is £29.99 per kg. Head to www.usn.co.uk for further information.
Nikwax Skito Stop
Although probably not an essential buy if you're confined to the British Isles this winter, those of you fortunate enough to be training in more sunny climes may be interested in this insect repellent kit. Firmly in the former camp, we've not yet had the chance to test these products out, but they will come in very handy when (or if) the weather warms up.
The products available include a 25ml gel (£4.99) to instantly sooth the pain of insect bites, a 100ml repellent spray with (£7.99) and without (£6.99) after-sun, and a 300ml spray (£9.99) to dissuade mosquitoes from entering your tent. Visit their website, www.nikwax.com, for further details.
Teisen Mint-Ease cream
Mint-Ease is a muscle and joint soothing cream that can be applied just before your warm-up or straight after your ride. It contains 35 percent pure mint oil, blended with a skin friendly lotion which can be applied easily. The smell isn't as overpowering as we'd feared, and it seems to do its job. RRP is £7.65. Head to www.mint-ease.co.uk for more on this product.