Chocolate #9's refreshingly simple energy gel formula uses just two ingredients – organic agave and cocoa – instead of the usual 10 or more. The cocoa lends it a pleasantly strong and highly palatable chocolate taste while the agave's low glycemic index (even lower than brown rice syrup or honey) delivers the energy kick more slowly and consistently than gels that rely more heavily on simple sugars.
We found Chocolate #9 to work best on longer endurance-type rides where it's more crucial to have a sustained energy level. As promised, it comes on slower and fades less dramatically than many other energy gels – not unlike what you typically get from a bar. Moreover, our perceived energy levels tended to stay more stable, especially towards the end of a ride where you're depending more on ingested calories rather than internal glycogen stores, and we never experienced any gastro-intestinal issues during testing, either.
As well as this long, slow burn may work well for endurance riders, though, the single calorie-source formula limits its appeal for short-course racers who might usually rely on fast and dramatic energy spikes as the finish line looms near. Sure, Chocolate #9 does a good job of staving off a sugar crash but sometimes you want the preceding sugar high that mixed- or simpler-source blends can deliver.
In addition, each 29.5g (1.04oz) packet only contains 70 calories and 15g of carbohydrates (down from the more common 100+ and 20g+, respectively) so you'll need to suck down more of them to get the equivalent amount of energy.