Product: 9bar (various flavours). Type: Nutrition/energy bar.
Weight: 50g bars. Tested: Summer 2014.
You get the feeling this is slow-release and not sugar-rush kind of energy
AS someone who's been put off by many a sickly-sweet vehicle for energy, I tend to put water in my bidon and carry a banana. Hot days you'll often find a nice crusty 'bocadillo con jamon' (ham sandwich - Ed) in the back pocket too because sweet stuff just doesn't go down well, it can be messy and you usually want more texture. Cold weather often means the sticky bars go hard and stick to the teeth so you're disabled for a few minutes of frantic chewing – Oh, and don't try talking to me or I will bite my tongue off. No wonder people go for gels, but I find they make me feel sick and limit my effort. Plus I don't like the aftertaste. Oh and did I say I'm a fussy eater…?
So here's another bar with big numbers on the back. 50g is thicker and wider looking than other bars and the 277 kcal / 1155 kJ surely puts it in the confectionery category. Hang on, look at the ingredients though; Mixed Seeds is 58% of this bar. Sure the carob topping has sugar as its first ingredient with vegetable fat bound on to the carob with sunflower lecithin and soya, while the seeds underneath are bound like a granola with honey, raw cane sugar and vegetable oil. That's it and it all looks good, but with the calorific value making me think this would be sticky I'll admit I was suspicious so I chose the 'original' and not a flavoured bar for my usual two and a half hour ride.
Over the top of the hills at halfway, I wasn't really hungry and the heat meant I didn't have a lot of water left, but your reviewer is the selfless kind and you need to know…
Open the packet. It peels easy and isn't stuck or wanting to fly out. You could put a snip in the pack edge if you're worried about opening one-handed but this one tore nicely down the centre seam, leaving the bar popped-up ready.
The Original flavour 9Bar (chosen first by our 'fussy' tester) with a Fruity flavour one at top of review.
Looks like my regular breakfast but without the oats or dried fruit, just the seeds. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy and hemp. Packed in they are and showing nicely at the neatly cut edge of the bar. OK, so the topping is going to be sticky? Or melted? – Nope. Bite in there and it's the seeds that hit you. There's no sickliness or sticky, just the bite of the seeds and they're wholesome to swallow or to keep on chewing for as long as you like. The carob is not trying to taste like chocolate or have its fatty mouth-feel which can be repulsive on a ride.
The bar is not too 'crunchy' or 'granola' either and the texture is all from the seeds, not from 'crispified' rice, oats or whatever that will crisp-up when boiled in sugar. It actually was not too much to eat at one go because you get the feeling this is slow-release and not sugar-rush kind of energy. Later on the ride - back from the hills - I didn't get the 'boak' or any sickly aftertaste and I didn't feel like I had to hang back a while till it went down. I also did not feel like all the water in my body was being pulled by sugar into my gut.
Back home, no hunger and not too much thirst either so it seems the calories did satisfy for a longer time. Definitely beats most bars I've tried (and there are many more with ingredients I won't touch).
I'll still take a banana and that ham roll with me on the longer rides but 9bar has texture, taste and wholesome ingredients in a handy pack. Now, on with the rides as I work my way through the other flavours that all come from real ingredients.
Cyclocrossrider rating: Performance: 8/10. Value: 8/10.
Ingredients: Vary from bar to bar eg. not all contain nuts, some have peanuts. See photo above and company website.
Company website: www.9bar.com
UK distribution direct from manufacturer: Wholebake Limited, Tyn Y Llidiart, Denbighshire, North Wales LL21 9RR.