If you’re wondering why I chose the Loaded Poke for this review, it’s simply because I love this little guy. Defined by its creators as an “urban explorer”, it’s designed to be an agile and lightweight all-round city cruiser.
The Loaded Poke (pronounced “poke-eh”) is a great board for cruising in tight city areas. At about the size of a street skateboard, it’s very lightweight and easy to carry around in a backpack. The wide, rockered deck makes it low enough to push travel on, and the mild concave and wheel flares gives your feet good grip for carving and slashing. A stiff-ish deck and large kicktail and nose make it apt for freestyle tricks, bowl riding, and some quick sliding. With the right setup, this board can be astonishingly pumpable and surfy.
Let’s dig in deeper and examine what makes the Poke such a special cruiser – click here to see the Poke’s page on Loaded’s website.
Loaded Poke shape and design
The Poke is a very cool looking topmount compact deck with a directional shape that calls for a surfy kind of ride. While the kicktail is larger than the nose – making the shape asymmetrical, both tails are significantly narrower than the middle of the deck. This, along with the ample wheel cutouts, provide for good wheel clearance.
Like other Loaded models, the Poke is made of a vertically laminated bamboo core sandwiched in 2 fiberglass layers. This snowboard-like construction confers it the subtle flex, light weight, and awesome durability Loaded is famous for.
The bamboo veneer on the bottom the Poke looks really nice. So does the fish art and combined with the honeycomb embossing of the fiberglass at the bottom. Poke is a sort of Hawaiian fish salad, conveying the fact that the Poke is the latest successor to Loaded’s “fishy” series, the Loaded Fish and Ceviche models.
At 34″ the Poke is about the length of a regular street deck (most are 30-33″ long), but much wider at 9.125″ (street decks typically fall in the 8.0 – 8.50″ range).
Therefore it’s a good choice for you if you’re a street skater looking for a comfortable ride for cruising and commuting without compromising on portability and freestyle (read on for more), or a longboard city rider who needs something small, maneuverable, and easy to stow.
The Poke is really lightweight (2.8lb) and can be carried around without effort – again, this results to the brand’s signature hybrid bamboo and fiberglass construction.
Aside from width, what makes the Poke a great cruiser is its 20.75″ wheelbase (13.15″ on a street deck). Longer wheelbases allow for stability at higher cruising speeds, and alllow for bigger wheels leading to a more comfortable ride. Compared to a street deck the same size, the Poke is just super smooth to ride.
Capable and agile city carving and pumping
What really makes the Poke stand out is its combination of rocker, concave, and flex. These features determine the board’s capabilities as a “versatile urban explorer”. What does that mean ?
Let’s start with rocker. A board’s rocker is simply a downward curvature of a deck, with the middle of the board being slightly lower than the mount points. The Poke is rockered 0.1″.
Why should you care ? The deck being lowered in the middle means the board rides lower to the ground. When you’re commuting or push traveling longer distances, a lower ride makes a big difference in the amount of stress and effort required on your hips, knees and ankles for kick pushing over long durations.
Adding to rocker for traveling comfort is the Poke’s subtle flex. A bit of flex gives you a slight rebound when your kick, adding to the pushing impulses. Slight flex also helps you when you pump (see pumping setup below) as it bounces you up into your next turn.
A rockered profile is also a plus when you carve or slide, cradling your feet in and locking them into position.
Concave is another important factor for that foot lock-in feeling. The Poke’s subtle concave (0.5″), allied with its strong grip tape, is enough to get your feet tucked in when you carve or pump, transitioning from one rail to the other.
The mellow concave, however, doesn’t get in the way of moving around when doing freestyle tricks (see next section).
So rocker, concave, and flex are carefully designed to work together and give the Poke its comfortable and maneuverable carving agility. But there’s one more piece to this urban explorer puzzle : the wheel flares.
Wheel flares are slighted raised sections of the deck above the wheels. Flares provide more wheel clearance and allow for bigger wheels without suffering wheelbite.
Like on the Icarus (see full review here), the Poke’s wheel flares are also part of the carving oriented design : not only are the flares meant to give more breathing room to the wheels, they are also part of the overall concave shape.
This allows the rider to leverage those tiny, hardly noticeable ridges in the board contour, when leaning into a tight turn or initiating a freestyle trick or a small slide.
So, rocker, concave, and wheel flares all participate in that secure hold, safe feeling when you’re riding the Poke, weaving around obstacles or pushing along the streets for hour in city areas.
Freestyling with the Poke
So far I’ve focused on the Poke’s carving abilities, a core design focus for this compact city cruiser. However, there’s more to the Poke than just cruising and carving – otherwise you might consider it merely a compact version of the Icarus.
The Poke was also designed with strong freestyle capabilities in mind. I already mentioned its short size is close to that of a street board, making it a good candidate for dropping into a bowl.
What’s more, the significant kicktail and prominent nose make the Poke easy to ollie, kick or flip, and perform other classic skate tricks like shovits. The relatively stiff flex of the deck gives it lots of pop – something not found on every cruiser.
The kicktail also comes in very handy when cruising on tight sidewalks, for ollying up or down curbs and kick turning really fast around people and obstacles. The kicktail provides significant leverage for doing tricks and short slides.
The board was designed as much for performing these kinds of street tricks as for carving around town. Hence the term “versatile urban explorer”.
The nose kick feels very present under your feet – it feels bigger than it actually is and facilitates manuals and flat top plants.
Some riders even like to dance of the Poke, despite its very short length. The wide deck and well-designed tails make it fun to dance on it, provided your feet are small enough – and if you’re generally a smaller rider.
Loaded Poke setups
When you purchase a Poke, you can pick from a wide choice of trucks and wheels to mount on the deck. Loaded, however, suggest two pre-defined setups that typically work very well depending on the kind of riding you plan to do :
- A carving oriented setup with Paris V2 150mm (50º) trucks and a set of Orangatang Stimulus 70mm wheels (80A durometer). At $295, this setup is focused on smooth turning and a balanced mix of carving and sliding.The Paris trucks keep the board relatively low, and the soft-ish Orangatangs offer good traction while still letting you break into decent slides.
This is a good all-around setup for city commuting and some slashing which can handle some speed without issues.
- A surf simulation and pumping setup with Carver surfskate trucks (CX.4 in the front, C2.4 in the rear) and Orangatang 4President 70mm 80A wheels. Priced at $354 – Carver trucks are quite pricer than the Paris.
This is a “directional” setup because of the high turning CX truck in the front and the standard, more stable but and higher up C2 in the back, making switch riding difficult.
Carver trucks, combined with the grippy 4President wheels and high-rebound bushings, make this Poke setup hightly pumpable, including from a still start! It ‘s also an extremely agile and responsive setup for super surfy and agile carving.
I’m a big fan of this latter setup as I love Carver trucks and have always wanted to try them on one of those high end Loaded boards. The result is incredible : a fast, compact board you can ride by pumping without having to do kick push (assuming you’re riding on a decently smooth surface) and that you can still do kick tricks on !
You can fine tune this setup by putting softer bushings in the from than in the rear. Using double-barrel bushing can add to the overall responsiveness. Note, however, that this pumping setup does not handle speed as well as the more versatile Paris RKP setup.
Verdict : who’s the Poke for ?
Within Loaded’s overall board product line, the Poke is primarily positioned for carving and freestyling, with pumping and sliding as secondary but effective target styles.
To recap, the Poke’s main assets are as follows :
- High maneuverability and portability for city cruising thanks to its compact shape, light weight, and good wheel clearance
- Comfort for longer distance pushing thanks to its wider deck, lower profile, helpful flex, mellow concave and wheel flares for foot lock-in
- Quality construction and durability due to Loaded’s top workmanship and high-end hybrid material
- Pumpability and surfiness, especially when all of the above is combined with a surf-oriented trucks and wheels
- Very poppable and kickable due to its relative stiffness, large kicktail, good kick nose, and light weight
Many Poke riders use if for daily commuting through congested city areas that require a small, portable and agile board easy to to get on and off of.
Doing quick slides on the Poke while carving feels very natural – particularly using mixed wheels such as the Stimulus, and 50º trucks.
The Poke, however, is not really a freeride or downhill board due to its short length. That said, experienced riders can still feel safe on it at speeds up to 25 mph due to the smart concave and rocker.
The Poke gives a very nice feel when riding bowls, whether on a standard carving setup or a more surfy one – though the feeling will be very different between the two. The ample kick and wheel cutouts, and the wide deck with flared contours, are a blessing for this type of riding.
The Poke will last forever and can withstand a lot of abuse – even though the fiberglass on the edges might chip a bit from repeated scrapes and bumps.
At $169 for the standalone deck, and starting around $300 for a complete setup, the Poke may not be the cheapest cruiser on the market. But as if you’re looking for a high quality city cruiser with surprinsing carving, pumping and freestyle capabilities, it’s definitely worth the price.