Torq Hypotonic provides low carb and electrolyte hydration for short rides in hot weather, and the small sachets make it ideal to carry in your kit bag to a race or time trial.
The latest nutrition product from British company Torq is one that is designed to 'optimise hydration during short sessions and races', and for chain gangs, evening races and time trials, or just very fast summer rides where sweat loss is high, it's an effective and tasty drink.
It comes in six 18g sachets contained in a plastic screw-top container. This makes it ideal for throwing in your kit bag if driving to a race, and at home makes preparing a drink easy as there's no mess at all. Each 18g sachet makes a 500ml dose but can be used in a 750ml bottle for a weaker concentration.
Each sachet provides just 15g of carbohydrate, which clearly isn't a lot, and Torq stresses that it's not intended for fuelling for longer rides. For rides in excess of 60 minutes it suggests you use its other energy products – bars, gels and energy powder. That said, Torq does say the Hypotonic, because of the handy sachets it comes in, can be used as a backup on longer rides. Stuff a couple in a jersey pocket if venturing out all day on the bike, for example.
That small amount of carbohydrate, delivered via a 2:1 glucose:fructose formulation, is designed specifically to cover the energy requirements for an hour-long ride or race, provided you've fuelled adequately in the hours leading up to it. There are also no added colours, preservatives or artificial sweeteners in the ingredients.
What Hypotonic is aimed at, according to Torq, is hydrating you faster than the electrolyte tablets that are popular in the cycling market. Not that these tablets aren't packed with electrolytes – including sodium, chloride, calcium lactate, potassium chloride, and magnesium carbonate – so you're getting a good dose.
But Torq reckons its new Hypotonic powder is better than electrolyte tablets, hydrating you faster, according to its own research, because the glucose and sodium ingredients speed up fluid absorption. Electrolyte tablets, because they contain no carbs, are slower to be absorbed by the body.
The product is offered in two flavours, Lemon and Tangerine. I tested the latter and, to put it through its paces for its intended use, I filled a 500ml bottle and headed out on the weekday evening chain gang, a high-intensity hour-long training ride. The first thing to note is that the product is easy to mix in a bottle of water with no clogging, and the solution is light on the taste buds with a refreshing flavour. Yes, it does taste remotely of tangerine, but it's not too strong if it's not your fave flavour.
During that ride, I really liked the fact that it didn't have that concentrated taste of some energy products, which can make them hard to stomach for higher intensity rides and races. I liked the taste, and it caused no stomach issues during or after use.
I've been leaning towards water and 'real' food for my riding nutrition in recent years, and rarely reach for energy products unless it's for a race or target event. But Hypotonic changed that. For the short but intense rides that make up much of my riding time, with lots of chain gangs and hour-long high-intensity sessions, I found the small amount of carbohydrate enough to keep my energy levels up, especially when I would normally begin to fade towards the end. Hypotonic seemed to help me maintain a higher energy level in the latter stages of a hard ride.
Torq suggests another benefit of Hypotonic is that it helps to overcome the bloating and suppressed thirst reflex that can result from just drinking plain water during an intense session, because of the carbohydrate and electrolytes in the powder. I certainly didn't notice any bloating or lack of thirst using it.
As with most energy products, it's not cheap to use on a regular basis. A tube costs £7 so that works out at £1.16 a go, which is expensive if you do use it often. Save it just for events like a race or time trial and it starts to make better value. Torq does sell four canisters for £25 and 10 for £55.90, which work out at better value for money.
Torq Hypotonic won't be for everyone, but if you want a better alternative to water for those shorter training sessions and evening crit races, or cyclo-cross races this winter, it's a tasty drink that's easily digestible and very light on the stomach, and will help keep you hydrated.
Low carb energy drink ideal for short rides in hot – or cold – weather
road.cc test report
Make and model: Torq Hypotonic Tangerine
Size tested: 6 X 18g sachets
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: "TORQ Hypotonic represents the fastest possible method of hydration available. The 3% 2:1 Glucose:Fructose formulation combined with five key electrolytes has ultra-low tonicity, which creates a strong osmotic gradient, driving fluid and salts into the blood...
"Each sachet of TORQ Hypotonic, when mixed with 500ml of water contains 15 grams of carbohydrate and represents 0.5 TORQ Units. The main purpose of this product is to support optimal hydration during short intense events/training sessions under an hour in duration where perspiration rates are exceptionally high. However, TORQ Hypotonic can still be used alongside TORQ gel, TORQ bar and TORQ chew as part of the TORQ Fuelling System, which makes fuelling for endurance sport extremely easy to understand and implement."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A Hypotonic solution represents the fastest possible way to hydrate
TORQ Hypotonic will hydrate significantly faster than an electrolyte tab
TORQ Hypotonic is formulated with 2:1 Glucose:Fructose derivatives
TORQ Hypotonic contains no artificial sweeteners
TORQ Hypotonic contains no added colours or preservatives
TORQ Hypotonic contains some fuel to delay fatigue (15g Carbs - 0.5 TORQ Units)*
It's not cheap if you use it regularly, but there are discounts for bulk buys.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A good alternative to water and regular energy drinks for shorter rides of high intensity, like crit races, time trials, cyclo-cross or just personal training sessions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very tasty and easy on the stomach. Easy to prepare, and you can carry spares in a jersey pocket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
It's a good product for short intense rides offering noticeable benefit over plain water, but a bit pricey.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 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, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.