When to use caffeinated gels?

I really like the SiS gels with caffeine, but I feel like I shouldn’t be popping those every 30-45 minutes on a longer ride. Given the half life of caffeine, maybe one caffeine gel per hour? Or is it diminishing returns after the first one? Should I save it for the crucial moment? Start line?

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I personally save them for crucial moments.

Generally ~15 minutes or so before a big hill or somewhere I know people will be attacking. I also take one near the end of a race. I agree that taking them all the time will probably lead to diminishing returns.

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I moved from SIS to zipfit caffeine gels as the latter supplies a more significant kick and I use them just before I’m on my chinstrap which i use sparingly, or least I’d do now as I had a one off seizure, triggers for seizures haven’t yet been diagnosed but one suspected belief is excess caffeine.

Post event it certainly makes you think and adapt your behaviours so my daily caffeine intake is capped.

Rather rely on caffeine gels to get you out of a hole, elevate your vision to a more sustainable diet with quality calories consumed pre, during and post ride but the real world is while we can follow that structure we always empty the tank when we ride with friends who are stronger and to keep up for the last twenty miles or last big climb of the day means kicker to your system with caffeine and carbs is always welcome.

Another perspective is to eat the pain and suffer some more as you have to view yourself with a 180degree view point and toughen up mentally. The phrase “dig deep” is age old with a pertinence that will last as long as cycling.

So from my personal view point, use caffeine sparingly as it resembles a get out of jail free card rather than a sustainable diet


I think it also depends how much caffeine you take daily basis (do you have daily morning coffee etc…). Because of that i don’t know what kind of effect you have/could have. Last time i did caffeine gels they didn’t feel any different because of my daily caffeine intake.

Just my opinion.

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I consume enough coffee daily that they don’t do too much, plus most caffeinated ones taste grim. I’d rather use Pro Plus or redbull if planning on using something caffeine based.

If I really need a kick I grab an espresso from somewhere.

I would love it if I could pop an espresso shot mid race. Not too many coffee shops on the courses I race on mostly in the rural Southeast haha.

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Might be an interesting sticky bottle!

I just bought 30 SIS cola/caffeine gels. I also like their cola/caffeine HYDRO tabs with water. Both taste good to me.

They’re not much more expensive than standard gels, and 75mg of caffeine is what it is - should make a slight difference, so why not? Obviously don’t use them too late in the evening, otherwise just use like any other gel.

I guess it depends on your tolerance.

I for instance don’t get much kick out of those gels. Guess it’s because I go through 5-10 cups of coffee per day. Not to mention the occasional Red Bull.

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Damn…That for sure is not recommended. It’s probably messing with your sleep. Not to mention putting stress on your cardiovascular and adrenal system.

That’s on a different page. Though so far no issues.

I needed a little extra caffeine this morning, so I replaced a third cup of coffee with a GU gel that has caffeine. Wanted to get going so drinking that third cup would have put me behind. Worked out well.

For me, caffeine is less about a “kick” and more about increasing my tolerance for suffering (although a big dose of coffee can certainly get me on the trainer when I’m not in the mood). I find it really works for reducing RPE and the gels are the best way of getting the caffeine in on the bike. I’ll drink an espresso or two before a tough workout, then use the gels to keep the caffeine topped up. I’ll also slurp a gel down if I’m halfway through a workout and I’m not confident I’ll resist the urge to bail, or if I want to maintain a pace up a hill that I know is going to hurt me.
I generally eat a caffeine gel about 10/15 minutes before I think I’ll need it. You also get the sugar benefits that you’d get with a normal gel, so you’re keeping your glycogen topped up too. I love them, personally.

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My two cents about caffeine: I use a 200mg pill in each big bottle for any workout except recovery/endurance work.

I used to drink 5 to 8 cups daily at work, but now I save it for workouts. It does lower RPE as everyone points out, but the strangest/nicest effect for me is that it makes it significantly easier to maintain a high cadence.

I find that my caffeine-fuelled cadence is about 10rpm higher than without it. That allows me to play with candence a lot more, so I can extend my time in zone.

Does anyone else have the same effect?

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+1 I tried the 300g pre race for XCO and I was vibrating on the start line and couldn’t ride for toffee. Now a 200mg pill 45 mins before a Turbo TT/effort or MTB Marathon and my RPE really does swing positively.

I had a strange experience with a caffeine gel during a 12hr, having to stop 15 mins after I took it to throw it up again on the side of the trail. Not sure if my body couldn’t tolerate it after 8hrs of riding or it was “off” in some way.

Had a similar experience in a long race with lots of climbing. Went for the SiS espresso gel at mile 88 and threw up at mile 92. The head didn’t help. It was about 95f that day but it did seem like my body was rejecting the caffeine.

I use SIS double espresso gels BEFORE a big or hard ride. I really don’t like using caffeine gels mid ride they just don’t sit well with me.

Two really good options are Block Chews Cherry Flavour. Each 3 cubes has 50mg caffeine so its much easier to dose. I.e. sometimes you need a boost but don’t want to be injesting another 75/150 all in one go, so you can just nibble some blocks.

I also LOVE caffeine bullets - they are on amazon. I originally used them for running but now use them cycling as well. If you want the caffeine to hit you straight away these are the one as it goes into your gums and you can feel the boost immediately. They take up no room so are very handy.

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Try an SIS caffeine shot.

That’s a parallel with me, it was a very hot day during a 12h race.

We’d had a hot British summer and my gels were in the mancave which topped 45C, I thought that had spoiled them tbh

200mg caffeine tablet 45 mins before the start of an open TT & then a caffeine gel after 2 hours if the event is long enough (other gels, carb drink in between).
If it is just a club TT then just a couple of caffeine gels… 1, 20 minutes before the start, 1 ,10 minutes before start.
Works well for me.