Big news, or old news? Your questions about Maurten’s baking soda ‘bicarb system,’ answered

Big news, or old news?  Your questions about Maurten's baking soda 'bicarb system,' answered

“], “filter”: { “nextExceptions”: “img, blockquote, div”, “nextContainsExceptions”: “img, blockquote, a.btn, ao-button”} }”>

Swedish brand Maurten changed the game with energy gels and drinks that pushed carbohydrate consumption further than ever before.

And now it’s hoping to shake up the decades-old practice of “bicarb loading,” an old-school pre-performance process that fends off muscle burn and fatigue but brings the potential for a whole host of toilet-based troubles.

The pro peloton is buzzing about Maurten’s new hydrogel-based “bicarb system” and stars throughout the athletic community already back it – but is the world’s newest half-percenter big news or old news?

Here are the answers to some of your key questions:

Errr … isn’t sodium bicarbonate what I use to bake my cakes?

Yes, it sure is.

Sodium bicarbonate – also called baking soda or bicarbonate of soda – is found in kitchen cabinets all over the world. As a “raising agent,” it can be added to cakes and bread to make them light and airy.

It’s also an abrasive, so it has additional uses for household cleaning.

So how does that translate to sport?

Athletes from across the sporting spectrum have been bicarb loading for decades.

A small dose of baking soda helps to buffer the acid produced in working muscles that makes them “burn” and fatigue. Bicarb brings a few more minutes of freshness, makes racing less of a suffer-fest, and can add a few watts in a short sprint.

“Even when I was a professional [in the mid-2000s – ed], I was using it. You’d see sprinters taking it with about 30 K to go,” Jumbo-Visma performance director Mathieu Heijboer told CyclingTips in a recent call. “It gives a small benefit, but it certainly helps.”

“We’ve seen the power outputs for 20 or 30-second sprints is higher with bicarb. The riders cope better with the lactic acid which is produced in those hard efforts,” Heijboer continued. “So it definitely improves perception, but also output. That’s why riders like it so much.”

Roglič (left) and Jumbo-Visma were involved early in the test and development process of the Maurten system. (Photo: Josep Lago / AFP / Getty)


Eating an abrasive doesn’t work for everyone.

Although many bicarb-loaders survive unscathed, many athletes can end up with a whole range of GI issues, ranging from nausea and bloatedness to diarrhea and vomiting.

A bad experience with bicarb can end an athlete’s competition, and maybe make a lot of mess.

So what’s the hype with the Maurten system, and how does it work?

Maurten claims the hydrogel system that defines its carb-crushed energy products is back to save stomachs all across sport.

The bicarb system is a three-part product that reportedly keeps the good bits of dosing with baking soda and eliminates the bad.

The system works by having an athlete fold a baking soda tablet into a hydrogel goop that protects the gut and delivers a solid 40g dose of carb for a bonus pre-race boost.

Eat the jello-like result 90 minutes before you click into your cleats, and you’re golden.

“What we’ve shown is that with hydrogel technology, this bicarb system mitigates all of the GI issues of bicarb loading,” Maurten scientist Joshua Rowe told CyclingTips.

“The hydrogel is basically a delivery system. So once it enters the stomach, it creates a type of shield. Then once it’s bypassed into small intestines, it creates another type of shield. So the hydrogel is adapted to the pH or the GI tract. That’s how we’re able to deliver huge volumes of carbohydrate in the energy products, and now also sodium bicarbonate here.”

The package contains a mixing bowl, hydrogel powder, and the baking soda. (Photo: Maurten)

And how is it different from products already on the market by brands like Momentous / Amp Human?

Maurten claims its hydrogel technology is what makes the bicarb system stand out from the skin creams and lotions already on the market.

“We looked at the data and the research around using a cream and found you wouldn’t be able to deliver a significant amount of bicarb. To increase your muscles’ buffering capacity, you need to ingest a pretty significant amount of bicarb,” Rowe said.

“The problem is your skin’s designed to propel things and doesn’t allow any significant absorption rate. So the actual uptake with a cream is really insignificant.”

The Maurten bicarb bomb reportedly also brings some big bonus benefits, too.

The brand claims it has extended the bicarb efficiency window from around four hours to somewhere up to seven hours – keeping the gains coming strong until deep into the longest races on the calendar.

Maurten also points toward studies that show its product remains effective through repeat bouts of effort, a contrast to the rapid depletion of bicarb associated with traditional loading techniques. The benefit? Hard, aggressive races loaded with attacks won’t zap bicarb reserves.

Is this all just marketing hype?

CyclingTips is waiting on samples for a full review.

But based on early reactions in the pro peloton, it seems Maurten’s baking soda revolution is a big deal.

Jumbo-Visma’s men’s racers have been using trial versions of the system since 2019, and Primož Roglič used it when he rode to Olympic gold in Rio.

Women’s WorldTour powerhouse SD Worx joined the R&D party a few years later, and Lotte Kopecky got Maurten’s buffering benefits when she beat back Annemiek van Vleuten at last year’s Strade Bianche.

Racers at the UAE Tour last month told CyclingTips they were clamoring to get their mitts on it now the system is widely available.

“This system is opening a new world for some of our riders who weren’t able to use bicarb before. I think it’s really a big change and a big advantage for riders who weren’t able to use it before,” Jumbo-Visma staffer Heijboer said, adding that Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, and Roglič are all big fans.

Kopecky used the bicarb system when she won Strade Bianche last year. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

And the hype extends outside of the pro peloton.

Olympics-crushing speed skater Nils van der Poel, trail running “GOAT” Kilian Jornet, and record-breaking track runner Joshua Cheptegei are among the many bigging up the benefits of Maurten’s new bicarb product.

OK, how much does it cost?

the lot.

The $65 USD / £60 GBP pricepoint for a four-dose package is as eye-watering as the muscle burn the bicarb system is supposed to mitigate.

When will CyclingTips review this thing?


In the meantime, you can find out more about it on the Maurten website here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *