We've already tested Zipvit's ZV7 energy gel here on road.cc - and we liked it - but now we're testing the ZV7c. The 'c' suffix stands for 'caffeine'.
In most respects the two varieties of gel are the same. Both weigh in at 60g, with carb makings up 50g, providing just over 200kcal of energy. The source of the carb is maltodextrin, and other key ingredients include sucrose and glucose syrup. Also in the mix is potassium and sodium to replace electrolytes lost in sweat. And on top of that is 160mg of caffeine.
So why is caffeine added? For three main reasons:
First, because (to put it in layman's terms) caffeine helps carbohydrate work better, meaning you get a little extra - and totally legal - energy boost. Many riders have a caffeine-enhanced gel before starting a relatively short race such as a time trial or crit, when they need to perform at a high intensity right from the get-go. At the other end of the scale, endurance riders find a dash of caffeine helps them keep going in the last hour of a tough sportive.
Second, caffeine helps focus the mind. That's why many of us pick up an Americano on the way to the office. But it's also very useful in a sporting environment, whether you need to get in the zone before the next heat at a track meeting, or concentrate and avoid silly errors during the Etape.
Third, caffeine acts as a pain killer. Now, if you're in severe pain near the end of a long hard race or sportive, you ought to back off and not risk further injury, but for those times when your limbs start to hurt simply because it's bloody hard, and you're chewing your handlebars trying to hang onto the wheel in front, that's when many riders find a little dash of caffeine really helps make a difference.
While it's possible that some of the benefits we get from caffeine may be psychological, a lot of serious science from the sports nutrition labs indicates that there are genuine physiological benefits as well.
So does the added caffeine work in the ZipVit gels? Absolutely. I've used ZV7c gels in a couple of long sportives, and necked one at about the 90-mile mark, turning what might have been a horrible slog over the final few miles into a confident romp to the finish.
Of course, you can get caffeine-enhance energy gels from other manufacturers, but the actual amounts of caffeine vary. Zipvit claims their 160mg per 60g is just what you need, compared to 50mg per 60g in SIS's Smart Gel, and 30mg per 38g in High5's Energy Gel Plus, for example.
In reality, different riders have different tolerances for caffeine, and only some trial and error on your part will determine the brand that works best for you - both in terms of amount of caffeine per gel, and the frequency you can take it (just like those Americanos, too much caffeine can be harmful and counter-productive). But based on our experiences, the ZV7c gels do the job well, and are definitely worth a try.
The gels are available in blackcurrent and (perhaps appropriately) cherry cola flavour, and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They're also lactose free and gluten free.
Retailing at £1.75 each, they're within a few pence of the similar SIS product mentioned above, and comparatively more than the similar High 5 product. Discounts are available for bulk buys, with a box of 24 V7c gels going for less than £40 at the on-line stores.
Highly effective energy-enhancing gel, ideal for pre-ride focus or end-of-ride survival.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipvit ZV7c caffeine energy gel
Size tested: Cherry Cola
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?
The ZipVit website says the ZV7c is 'a great tasting advanced energy gel that enhances attention, reaction speed and boosts performance... Each 60ml gel provides huge 51g serving of carbohydrates which are scientifically formulated for rapid energy delivery, plus the added benefits of caffeine and tyrosine. Caffeine presses the accelerator pedal, reducing effort during training and racing, while tyrosine puts mental fuel in the tank.'
We're not so sure about this 'presses the accelerator pedal' lark, but we can say - in more prosaic terms - that the ZV7c gels work for us and are definitely worth a try.
Did you enjoy using the product? yes
Would you consider buying the product? yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,