Review – TORQ Fitness Energy Products

TorqRangeI have been testing the full range of energy products from TORQ Fitness for Cycling Shorts.  I first came across TORQ products last year, so I was interested to see what their other products were like.  Here are my findings…

  • Energy Drink

TORQ are well-known for their varied choice of flavours so it was with some apprehension that I tried the vanilla flavoured energy drink, as I wasn’t convinced that I would like it.  How wrong was I?  It tastes more like marshmallow, but I was hooked from the first drink.  Not too sweet, and it didn’t make me thirsty (there have been many that have over the years), so I take that as a positive. Having said that, would I think the same if I had tested it in the heat of summer?  Possibly not, as I am not sure it would go down as well in a warm climate however I think an ice cube in your bottle would keep it cool and solve that problem.

Natural Blackcurrant Energy Drink 500If vanilla is not for you, then don’t despair!  They have pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, both of which are really tasty and thirst-quenching, as well as orange and lemon.  I have to admit that the orange flavour isn’t for me (it seemed to have a bit of a weird aftertaste that I couldn’t get used to) but others would probably disagree!

For a breakdown of their flavoured energy drink go to: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy

The other amazing energy drink that TORQ do is their natural organic flavour.  This has proved to be a lifesaver over the winter, as I have had it in my tea (yes, that’s right, in tea) as a top up of energy for those longer back to back training rides.  It also means that if you’re not keen on flavoured energy drinks and would prefer to use cordial, then TORQ energy is the answer there too.

More information can be found about the Energy Organic here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-energy-organic

In a word, I guess you can say that they cater for everyone!

 

  • Energy Gels

I have had TORQ gels before, and the first thing that occurred to me was that TORQ have changed the design of the wrapper to make them easier to open on the move.  The texture is also great – some gels can be too thin and watery whereas others can be too thick and similar to wallpaper paste – so TORQ have obviously been doing their homework as to what works best.  In addition, like the energy drinks, they have combined maltodextrin with fructose so that they work super fast, which means that you can keep going longer!

Torq Gel Apple Crumble 500The first gel that we tried was the banoffee flavoured version.  Having overdosed on bananas as a child, I’m not overly keen on anything vaguely banana-related, so I was fully expecting not to like this flavour.  Good news for people who aren’t too keen on bananas – the after taste was one of caramel not bananas!

Rhubarb and Custard flavour is one that seems to have a Marmite opinion when you talk to people about them – some love it others loathe it.  I am in the “love it” camp – it’s really sweet, which won’t appeal to some people, and you do need a drink after it, but there’s no vile after-taste!

Another hot favourite was raspberry ripple – again very sweet, which won’t appeal to some, but TORQ have obviously worked hard on the flavouring of these gels so at least you know that it actually tastes like it says on the wrapper, and not something random.  Top job all round, I’d say!

By the way, did I mention that all of their gels are dairy and wheat free and are suitable for vegans too?

The technology and science behind the gels can be found in more detail here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-gel

  • Energy Bars

The beauty of the TORQ energy bars is the high moisture content – some energy bars need a pint cup of tea with them, but these energy bars are really easy to eat on the bike – you don’t feel as if you’re expending more energy chewing the bar than riding the bike, which is always a bonus!

These bars come in a variety of flavours, from mango to apple and raspberry to pineapple and ginger.  I particularly liked the latter, as it sounded a bit weird but in actual fact you could even taste the ginger!

The only downside of these bars (sort of) is that they are foil-wrapped to preserve their moisture and keep them fresh (which is a good thing) but it means that they can be difficult to unwrap with gloves on.  In a race situation though, the ideal would be to have them unwrapped in your back pocket, in bite-sized chunks, so that you don’t need to worry about it.  Problem solved!

More information on the bars can be found here: http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/nutrition/torq-bar

 

  •  Pricing

Torq Energy

All TORQ Energy, including the natural flavour, comes in three different pack sizes – 500g costs £13.99, 1.5kg costs £27.99 and 3kg costs £47.99.  The flavoured energy also comes in a box of 20 sachets, which costs £27.40.  Don’t worry if you want to try before you buy too, there is also a sample box of five flavours which costs £17.40.

Gels

Gels without the added guarana (i.e. all flavours except Forest Fruits and Banoffee) retail at £1.45 per gel, with the guarana gels retailing at £1.75 per gel.  However, if you buy a box of 20, then they cost £1.37 and £1.66 each instead, so a box would cost £27.40 for those without guarana and £33.20 for those with guarana.  Not cheap, but bearing in mind all TORQ products are made with Fair Trade ingredients, they are punching above their weight, given that they are very competitive with other brands.  If you want to try before you buy a box, you can also purchase a sample pack of 12 gels for £18 and you can also buy a box of mixed flavours.  At the moment, TORQ are also doing a deal whereby you can buy two boxes of gels without guarana for £52, so you can swap flavours!

Bars

With the exception of the Organic Mango which retails at £1.65 each and £37.40 for a box of 24, the other bars retail at £1.45 each and £32.88 for a box of 24.  Again there is the option of multiple boxes and mix and match for those of you wanting to try before you invest in a box of 24 which you may not like.

Free postage and packaging

Now this may seem like a foregone conclusion nowadays, but some of TORQ’s competitors do charge postage and packaging, so I think this is a bonus!

jerseyTorqEnergyStarRatingOVERALL

So, what do I give the products as marks out of 100?

  • TORQ Energy

Taste – 92% (it would have been higher but I wasn’t convinced with the Orange flavour)

Price – 90% (competitively priced, with different quantities to suit different budgets)

Value for money – 95% (the larger quantities work out to be really cost-effective, if you can afford it)

Overall – 92 out of 100 – it gets our Star Buy Award!

  • JerseyTorqGelsReviewStarRatingTORQ Gels

Taste – 95% (all really tasty and can’t really fault them)

Price – 85% (competitively priced, but may prove to be an expensive luxury for some)

Value for money – 90% (the science and thinking behind the energy gels increases their value in my opinion)

Overall – 90 out of 100 – another Star Buy Award!

  • TORQ Bars

jerseyTorqBarReviewRatingTaste – 80% (tasty but some can seem similar to others, the texture is great though)

Price – 85% (again, competitive but could be seen as expensive for some)

Value for money – 85% (a lot of thought has gone into the products, which is what you are paying for)

Overall – 83 out of 100

 

CLIF Bar Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got our hands on a selection of Cliff Bars to review for you and Sim and Heather took on the taste and energy test.
 

Heather’s Opinion:
I had my first taste of CLIF Bars whilst taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain last year – the chocolate chip version kept me going from John O’Groats all the way to Glasgow, so when I was asked to review CLIF bars for CyclingShorts, I thought why not?

So, a large selection of CLIF Bars in all different flavours made their way through my door – There was the chocolate chip version which I had tried before, then Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour, followed by Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, then Chocolate Almond Fudge, with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bringing up the rear.

I must say that some of them sounded slightly exotic and I wasn’t convinced that I would like them, but I tried them all anyway (it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!)…

So, what did I think? Well, some of the flavours and the texture of the bars are better than others. For example, whilst the Oatmeal Raisin Walnut version may appeal to some due to the lower calorific content than the others, I found that unfortunately it was a bit disappointing – too dry to have on its own, especially trying to eat it going uphill. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the most exotic-sounding one (in my humble opinion), the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut was in actual fact the best of the bunch, mainly due to the addition of white chocolate pieces compensating for the dry nature of the bars in general. However, the Crunchy Peanut Butter flavour came a close second, as CLIF have worked hard to make that bar more chewy and therefore slightly more moist.

The Chocolate Almond Fudge was a bit disappointing too – I thought that it would be the CLIF Bar version of Bakewell Tart but it just seemed difficult to eat, as did the Chocolate Chip version. The bars really fill a hole and contain on average 245 kcals per bar and provide plenty of slow release energy from the seeds and grains used.

CLIF pride themselves on using wholesome and nutritious ingredients and having no trans fats, hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup. It should be noted though that under UK regulations CLIF Bar cannot state that the bars are organic or contain no transfats.

The wrappers are foil and although this keeps the contents fresh, it can hurt your teeth trying to rip it open (I can’t ride in a group of people non-handed so I have to use my teeth – but don’t tell my dentist!) however if you want weight for your £1, these are definitely substantial bars – you can feel the heft when you pick one up!

So, for marks out of 100, overall I would probably give the CLIF bar range 70% (good start, but some improvements needed) although I would give the White Chocolate Macadamia version 85%.

 
 

Sim’s Opinion:
I confess to being rather skeptical about using Cliff Bars as I have had mixed experiences using energy or nutrition bars when riding, to the point that I have reverted to using trusty old jam and bread on most rides. My experience is that some are gooey and sticky, others sickly and worse still some that encouraged the production of some rather unpleasant gases, which was not good in the bunkhouse when all ten of us had been using the same product with the same effect! So needless to say I was a tad apprehensive when I was among a group of friends taking part in the Manchester 100 who would be testing a range of Cliff Bars. Fortunately we would not all be staying in the same room at the end of the day!

On the day we had four different flavours, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond fudge, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, to test and we split them across the group of Team Parrotti riders. My son plumped for the Chocolate Chip and I tried the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.

Out on the road we were particularly impressed with the ease of opening the packaging and the fact that the bar stayed intact allowing us to nibble on the bar and keep popping it back into our back pockets without making a mess. Which is great if you want to use them for a little pick up as you are riding.

The consistency of the bars is moist but not too gooey and this works really well when riding allowing you to take small bites without the bar falling apart. However you do need a sweet tooth as the bars are very very sweet but then that is not surprising considering nearly a third of the bar is sugar (between 21g – 23g for a 68g bar). This was the general experience of all Team Parrotti riders who tested the bars during our day out at the Manchester 100. We all agreed that the bars are worth carrying as a back up source of energy but we all felt that they are a little too sweet to use as a regular nutrition.

Of the flavours tested the clear favourite was Chocolate Chip with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut a close second. The least favourite was Chocolate Almond fudge which was incredible sweet and rather sickly.

The bottom line has to be ‘would we use Cliff Bars again?’ and the answer is a resounding yes. They provide a good energy boost that be easily nibbled on when needed and they are really easy to digest with no adverse effects (if you know what I mean!).

To learn more about CLIF Bars and their extensive range of products visit their website: www.clifbar.co.uk

Cycling Shorts overall rating for the Cliff Bar Range:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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