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Loaded Poke Review: Why I Love This Cruiser

Loaded Poke Review: Why I Love This Cruiser

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-around city cruiser.

The Loaded Poke (pronounced “poke-eh”) is a great board for cruising in tight city areas.  Slightly bigger than a street deck, it’s super-lightweight and easy to carry around in a backpack.  The wide, rockered deck makes it comfortable to push travel on, and the mild concave and wheel flares offer good grip for carving and slashing.  The stiff-ish deck and large kicks make it apt for freestyle tricks, bowl riding, and quick slides.  With the right setup, this board can be astonishingly pumpable and surfy.

Check out the Loaded Poke on Loaded’s website.

Now let’s dig in deeper and examine what makes the Poke such a special cruiser.

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

Loaded Poke directional shape and kicks
Poke’s narrower kicks

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, lightweight, 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.

Loaded Poke bottom bamboo veneer
Bamboo veneer, honeycomb embossing

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 wheelbase allows for stability at higher cruising speeds, and 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″.

Loaded Poke rockered profile
Rockered profile

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 the 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 slightly raised sections of the deck above the wheels.  Flares provide more wheel clearance and allow for bigger wheels without suffering wheelbite.

Loaded Poke wheel flare

Like on the Icarus – see my 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 hours in city areas.

Freestyling with the Loaded 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 :

Carving-oriented setup

This setup has with Paris V2 150mm (50º) trucks and a set of Orangatang Stimulus 70mm wheels (80A durometer).   At slightly under $300, 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.

Orangatang Stimulus 70mm 80A wheels
Stimulus 70mm

This is a good all-around setup for city commuting and some slashing which can handle some speed without issues.

See the Poke setup page on Loaded’s site

Surfskate & pumping setup

This setup includes Carver surf trucks (CX.4 in the front, C2.4 in the rear) and Orangatang 4President 70mm 80A wheels.  It’s pricier at over $350 since Carver trucks are much pricer than the Paris.

Check out the Surf Simulation setup here on Loaded’s website.

This is a “directional” setup due to having the super turny CX truck in the front and a standard, more stable and higher C2 in the back, making switch riding difficult.

Loaded Poke carver setup
Carver setup

Carver trucks, combined with the grippy 4President wheels and high-rebound bushings, make this Poke setup highly 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 and 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! See it here on the Loaded site.

You can fine tune this setup by putting softer bushings in the front 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, lightweight, 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 lightweight

Many Poke riders use if for daily commuting through congested city areas that require a small, portable and agile board easy 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 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 under $170 for a standalone deck and starting around $300 for a complete setup on Loaded’s page, the Poke may not be the cheapest cruiser on the market.  But as if you’re looking for a high-quality city cruiser with surprising carving, pumping and freestyle capabilities, it’s definitely worth the price.

Kai

Saturday 24th of July 2021

Hey man,

I’m hoping you can help point me in the right direction. I am in between the loaded Vanguard, Icarus, and Poke.

My current ride: Landyachtz dinghy Knockoff penny board

My riding style: I run around my local city and parking garages. I do very tight and technical carving around people, sidewalks, etc. on both the penny and dinghy, I love carving hard enough to feel those back flirt with the edge of loosing traction. The issue is my riding is lower speed. I cant bomb the parking garages or streets around here. This means that most longboards don’t really get into their element because they excel at higher speeds.

I originally was looking at the vanguard and icarus. The icarus looked more snappy to me, but the vanguard is a top mount which could lead to more leverage over the trucks, but then I worried that they might be too long/big for the lower speed maneuverability and riding — so I threw the poke into the mix.

The flex of the other two boards is appealing, but I’ve seen people do some pretty crazy things on the poke as well.

Appreciate your help!!! Thanks.

Big Kahuna

Tuesday 27th of July 2021

Hey Kai,

I asked Loaded and here's their answer:

It sounds like you have a couple driving priorities: agility and slide control.

The Poke would be the best option in terms of agility and can slide easily thanks to the kicktail. But it might be too similar to your current quiver if you're looking to diversify a bit more.

Between the Vanguard and Icarus I'd definitely lean toward the Icarus for you. The Vanguard has a much longer wheelbase and is top mount, so it'll be a lot more stable (read: less agile) and more on the grippy side. The Icarus is easier to kick out into slides thanks to the drop-through mounting and the flared wheel wells, and the turning can be tuned for quicker response and edge-to-edge transitions using bushings like Orangatang Knuckles.

Alternatively, if you're really interested in longer, symmetrical shapes and like the slide factor, I'd argue the Tan Tien might be better suited to your needs than either the Vanguard or Icarus. It's drop-through for easy access to drifting, and it also has the shortest wheelbase and definitely feels more agile and aggressive when ridden with a loose truck setup and slide-friendly wheels.

ANT CAP

Monday 21st of June 2021

Hi Jesse,

appreciate a lot your reviews, thanks for that!

I would like to make a Surfskate out of the Omakase or the Poke. I don't know which one of those would be better for that. I am a short rider 5.5 and I would love to have the best surfing experience but still enjoy during short commuting.

Thank you a lot

Big Kahuna

Monday 21st of June 2021

Hey, both the Omakase and the Poke can work as surfskates but to me, the Omakase is great as it's nearly 1 inch wider and 1 inch shorter. The Omakase also has a more subtle concave compared to the Poke, bringing it closer to a normal surfskate deck - flatter concave gives you more freedom to move your feet around when surf carving and pumping. I ride the Omakase with Carver CX trucks (click "Build + buy" button) all the time and I really love it. That and the Coyote too. HTH

Marc Antoine Boudreau

Tuesday 30th of March 2021

Good for pumptrack or too long?

Big Kahuna

Friday 2nd of April 2021

AFAIK I'd probably choose the Omakase for the pumptrack

Brandon M

Thursday 10th of September 2020

I love this board. I use it mostly for downhill freeriding, but also a lot just carving and exploring. I use the paris 50* 180 trucks and depending on what I want to do, its just a matter of simple equipment changes. For downhill and freeriding days, I throw on my otang cage wheels or stimulus or even my lil hoots, tighten the trucks just a little, with the back being a little tighter. For carving and dancing and grooving days, I loosen those trucks, throw on some otang stims, or a nice grippy and offset wheel, change the bushings and go. While it may sound like a lot of work to change out wheels and bushings, keep this in my mind. I take my components apart almost every day anyway to clean everything. Minus the bearings. I only clean those as needed. I like to wake up to a fresh deck and create the set up I want for the day.

Keith

Tuesday 4th of August 2020

Hi! Thanks for the review! Ordered the Poke with Carver trucks to give it a try. I surf and want something that I can use to practice surf maneuvers as well as something to just ride and enjoy and its been a challenge to find a good board that would do both the more surfing maneuvers as well as just cruise but seems this will fit the bill being longer than the typical surf skate boards such as the board's carver has but yet still short enough to enable me to do the pumping/maneuvers I want. Thanks again for the review hoping this will be the perfect board for my use case!

Big Kahuna

Tuesday 4th of August 2020

Hey Keith, thanks for the good words, yeah the Poke with CX is my top board for distance pumping with some surf turns when I come across a good spot. It is indeed longer than most surfskates and has a lot more concave so you can go faster with it. It's also quite narrower than a surfskate so your feet will likely stick out unlike a surfskate, but that also gives you more leverage over the edges for pumping. Also a great board for speed despite the CX's ride height. Hope you have a blast on the Poke. Ride on!