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The Torq Cola Caffeine Energy drink mix contains caffeine, carbs and electrolytes in competitive doses, mixes well and provides a noticeable performance benefit – especially in warm climates. It's not badly priced either, particularly in bulk, but there's only this single flavour and it's one that taints bottles.
This drink delivers 100mg of caffeine, 120kcal of energy and 30g of carbs per 500ml bottle. The idea is the caffeine increases alertness and mental agility – I know loads of competitive riders that pop Pro Plus or the like before a race, and plenty more with coffee addictions – so this is a way of keeping caffeine levels high midride.
We'll come back to the caffeine content in a minute but first lets take a look at the carbs: 30g is about average for energy drinks, for example the Precision Hydration PF 30 mix I recently tested. There are now plenty of high carb mixes that will blow this figure out the water, so if that's the number one thing you're looking for in a drink then SiS Beta Fuel, OTE Super Carbs or the Enervit Isocarb 2:1 are probably better options.
Just like those, the Cola mix uses a 2:1 ratio of maltodextrin to fructose. This proven formula allows the body to digest more carbs; typically 90g per hour instead of 60.
This means that even if you don't use up your hourly carb allowance purely on drink, there's still some room left over for a bar or gel, whereas without the addition of fructose there might not be. During intense sessions I can happily stomach two 500ml bottles per hour, as well as a small bar without any discomfort.
Unlike some energy drinks this also offers some key electrolytes in significant amounts: chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium (488mg, 279mg, 64mg, 6mg and 27mg respectively). Electrolytes are minerals that regulate the balance of water and PH level of your body, and as they're lost in sweat, water alone can only do so much to rehydrate you.
In most cases the Cola's amounts are slightly higher than those found in Torq's own hydration drink, but not high enough to knock Precision Hydration PF 30 off the top step in this regard.
As Adam found with the Torq Hydration mix, the inclusion of electrolytes has a positive impact on performance and can help to ward off cramps. The harder and hotter a ride gets, the more useful they become. A recent heatwave and a hot weather training camp provided the perfect opportunity to test this, and I repeatedly found myself feeling better than when using a carb drink without electrolytes or caffeine.
This isn't overly scientific I know, and its also hard to isolate the placebo affect, but there are plenty of independent studies backing it up (some of which are linked to on the Torq product page under 'references').
Then we've got the caffeine: 100mg per 500ml to be precise. That's more than the 40mg you'll find in a can of coke, or the 80mg in a can of Red Bull (100mg is similar to the average brewed coffee – enough to perk you up a bit, although not as much as an espresso, which typically contains 212mg of caffeine). You might also not want to know that the guided daily amount of caffeine is 400mg, so four typical bidons of the Torq mix.
To prepare the drink you add two scoops for 500ml or three for a 750ml bottle (using the included scoop), and mix. It mixes well with minimal shaking and no lumpiness. One slight annoyance is that the bag's press seal just isn't strong enough, and the stiff material just springs it back open, which can lead to waste.
I found the cola flavour – the only option so far – perfectly pleasant. It's quite sweet but not at all fizzy, though it does tend to leave a noticeable aftertaste (and smell) in your bottle even after a thorough wash.
At £15.99 for a 500g bag, the Torq mix works out at £1.07 per serving, though there's a 1.5kg sack for £31.99 which is better value at £0.71 per serving. There are also discounts available for ordering multiple bags at a time.
It's a similar price to slightly carbier drinks such as OTE Lemon and Lime Energy or High5 2:1 Energy (£0.93 and £0.83 respectively), and against other electrolyte drinks okay too – it's more expensive than Torq's hydration drink (£19.99 and £0.67 per serving) but only just, and the Cola mix contains more carbs and caffeine as well.
Perhaps the closest competitor is Precision Hydration PF30, as it has a similar amount of carbs and a higher electrolyte content, though it doesn't contain caffeine. That costs £1.27 per serving.
This offers good value for money across the board considering it contains as many carbs as many of its competitors, has a decent amount of electrolytes, and includes caffeine as well. It's ideal for riders who don't mind fuelling from other sources (such as bars and gels), especially in warm environments. The single flavour is a limitation but it's perfectly palatable, mixes easily and works well.
Carbs, caffeine and electrolytes in an easy to mix drink, but we hope you like cola – it's the only flavour
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Torq Cola Caffeine Energy 500g
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Torq says: "This product has been carefully formulated to deliver TORQ's unique blend of multiple-transportable carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes to the working muscles extremely quickly and efficiently using research-proven 2:1 Maltodextrin:Fructose technology and all 5 key electrolytes. TORQ Cola Caffeine Energy Drink also contains 100mg of Natural Caffeine per 500ml via Guarana Extract. Caffeine has been found to increase alertness, mental agility, muscle function and assist the fat-burning process among other benefits."
I agree with all of that and think it's a good value product. It's best suited to riders who don't mind using additional fuelling sources alongside a drink, and those who like cola – it's the only flavour available.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
With Guarana (100mg Caffeine/500ml)
Multiple Transportable Carbohydrates
Contains 5 Key Electrolytes
Available in 500g or 1.5kg pouches
Per 500ml: 30g carbs, 100mg caffeine
The press seal didn't work very well and kept opening itself, but the mix itself is very good – it's vegan friendly, contains no artificial colours or sweeteners, and the caffeine is naturally sourced from Guarana.
No stomach issues, and the inclusion of fructose should mean you can digest more carbs comfortably.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's a well-rounded drink – sometimes I need an electrolyte drink and an energy drink on a ride, but this does both.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The bag doesn't reseal well.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Per portion it's similar to average energy drinks with a similar amount of carbs, but those rarely contain the same amount of electrolytes and this has caffeine as well. It's slightly more expensive than some hydration/electrolyte drinks, but the carbs/caffeine more than make up for it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a really good balance of electrolytes, carbs and caffeine at a very competitive price, especially when bought in bulk. It mixes well and I thought it tasted good – that's subjective though, and there's only one flavour to choose from.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...