Our Family Bike Guy has been testing a few of the Torq products we sell in the shop, to see if they provide him with any noticeable benefits whilst riding his new road bike.
Review: Torq Energy Bars and Gels
If you’re new to road riding, like me, one of the best tips I’ve been given (that I’d like to pass on if you’ll allow me) is this:- if you ride for more than an hour [at reasonable pace/exertion], you need to eat. I (according to the iPhone App I use) burn in excess of 2000 calories on normal ride (around 3 hours) covering 50+ miles. So unless I carry some sort of food with me I can really suffer. So much so that it becomes very difficult to keep going – I’ve found out to my distress. The difficulty then is carrying enough of the right sort of nutrition to fuel your muscles without weighing you down too much or ending up with overstuffed pockets.
The Torq range of energy bars and gels are an easily carried, nutritionally balanced product designed specifically for cyclists – at least that’s what the promotional wording on the packets say. The interesting points from my perspective were the lack of e-numbers and other unpleasant additives (a good thing I might add) and that the calorie count for both the bar and gel was actually quite low when compared to a supermarket cereal bar. Around 140 calories for both. The reasoning behind this is that the body can only absorb so many calories in one go and that it is better (and more comfortable) to consume “little and often” rather than stuff a massive amount into your stomach in one go.
The difference between the bar and the gel is pretty simple. The bar you have to chew, the gel (which is more like yogurt) you just squeeze into your mouth and swallow. Whether you prefer one or the other is very much a personal matter and I can see an argument for both. With that in mind, I took a couple of bars and gels on a 60 mile ride recently to test whether I felt they were of benefit, what their relative taste and ease of consumption was.
At this point, I should say that there is more than enough sports science evidence around (you only have to watch the pro riders on the Tour de France to see it in action) to completely support the advice given above about eating when riding any reasonable distance. So I won’t bother going on too much about that. Suffice to say, over 60 miles, I consumed a Torq product every 45-60 minutes after the start. I’m convinced that doing so allowed me to complete the ride (55 miles, 3hrs 12mins, average speed 17.5 mph, 2869 calories) without dying.
I had two flavours of bar to compare – I preferred the banana if that means anything to anyone. Both were a soft oat based cereal bar type affair. Their taste wasn’t amazing but neither was it awful. The act of chewing and swallowing actual solid food felt good on a long ride and I appreciated the sense of having something in my stomach.
The gels were an interesting experience. They do take up less space in your pockets, so it is probably a bit easier to carry more. Consuming them whilst riding was definitely quicker and easier than the bars. However, as I was carrying all my food in the pockets on my back (like most roadies would) everything got nicely warmed by my own [sweaty] body. This wasn’t a problem with the bars, but it did mean that the Torq Gel actually ended up being more like very warm yogurt with a raspberry flavour. Less pleasant in other words.
I think if I was training at a high lever or riding competitively the Torq Gels would find their way into my pockets more frequently than the bars simply because of their convenience factor. I’d just put up with the hot yogurt effect.. The bars I would have, given the choice, for the kind of riding I do – for fun and fitness – as they taste nicer, give me the sensation of actually having eaten something and are available in more flavours. They also have more fibre in, which is never a bad thing for a man of my age.
Torq Energy Drink
I do sweat quite a lot when cycling on my Giant Defy 1 (nothing to do with the bike mind, just my lack of fitness). So naturally I need to drink a lot of water. After my positive experience with the Torq Bars and Gels I thought I’d give the Energy drink a go too. This is basically a powder that you add to the water in your bike bottles (the mix you use depends on your body weight and whether you want more energy or hydration for hotter days). It is supposed to contain an ‘optimal carbohydrate mix (fructose and maltodextrin) and 5 key electrolytes. All of which sounds jolly useful.
I like to carry two 700ml bottles on any ride over 10 miles as I know I’ll need the fluid. For the first few rides I put two scoops of Torq Enery in one bottle and left the other as plain water. I’ve since changed this and now just put one scoop in both bottles. I’ve found that this extra bit of easily consumed and absorbed energy has really helped me to maintain a decent amount of pedalling effort. I only wish that I could carry more water/Torq mix for the hotter days we’ve been having! The tub of Torq Energy I bought has enough powder to last for around a month of regular (three times a week) riding, so it’s pretty good value. I went with the citrus flavour in case you were wondering. Very nice it is too.
The Torq brand has quickly established itself in an already fairly saturated market but it’s not difficult to see why. As a novice roadie, riding to build up fitness and loose some weight I felt that all the Torq stuff I tried was effective and offered a noticeable improvement (and benefits) over to just water and a couple of bananas (nothing wrong with that mind you).
The only downside I could see was that the cost per ride would be quite high if you took three Gels or Bars with you every time and dosed your water with Energy powder. The best way around this is to buy in bulk rather than singular bars etc. The price per item is considerable less if you can do this. Just don’t let your kids snack on them at home!
Disclaimer: No monetary payment was received for this review. The Torq Bars and Gels were provided free of charge. The Torq Energy drink was purchased by the reviewer.