HEED fits the bill for me:
1. It tastes GREAT!! (Whereas other drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, Accelerade, and Cytomax do not taste very good). Tasting great is one of the most important features of an energy drink for me ... if it doesn't taste good, I am reluctant to drink it. After about 3 hours on the bicycle, I had no desire to drink Gatorade anymore, but with HEED, I still look forward to drinking it after 30 hours and more on the bicycle. I like it cold and I like it hot ... which is more than I can say about all the other sports drinks I've tried.
2. It uses maltodextrin rather than simple sugars, which works well for me. Simple sugars make my mouth go all tingly ... I'm not even a fan of candy.
3. Other sports drinks cause mouth sores ... HEED does not. In fact, I just read their info and one of the ingredients is beneficial for helping promote oral health.
4. HEED has calories ... the way I fill my bottle, I've got 200-300 calories in there. I can do rides 2-3 hours long on HEED alone.
5. HEED has electrolytes which are adequate for most of my rides (although I do need to supplement them on longer, hotter rides).
Now having said all that, I am planning to experiment with a creation of my own sometime in the very near future. I found something interesting in the grocery store which I want to mix with maltodextrin and see how it tastes!
And ... despite the fact that I live on HEED on the bicycle, when I take breaks, I drink other things ... I like variety and I have certain, specific choices I prefer:
1) 100% pure orange juice ... this choice is very refreshing, it isn't too sweet - it's got a bit of a sour/bitter taste to it, it has calories and potassium, and it has Vitamin C.
2) Orange crush ... for some reason I find this choice sits extremely well, and just hits the spot on hot days.
3) Coke or Nestea Iced Tea ... I drink these mainly for the caffeine ... they also help settle my stomach if I'm feeling a little bit upset out there.
4) Coffee or Hot Tea ... I drink these mainly for the caffeine ... and tea helps settle my stomach if I'm feeling a little bit upset out there. But these don't do much to hydrate me ... I usually have to drink a bit of water or something with them.
5) Plain water ... and especially VERY COLD plain water is often a very refreshing, welcome relief after drinking flavored drinks. On hot days, I crave VERY COLD plain water ... although I do realize I need to be taking my electrolyte pills if I'm going to give in to my cravings. But nothing quenches like VERY COLD plain water.