We’re excited to have a range of Spade Kayaks in the shop. Being big fans of half slices the Spades Joker immediately grabbed our attention.
At first sight this is one pretty looking half slice. It has a smooth yet pronounced bow rocker which smooths out further back to maintain it’s waterline. The hull features an exciting looking sharp but not overly aggressive full length rail.
Inside the boat is a solid and well shaped seat which includes a hull stiffener and plastic front pillar to give the deck some support. The hull stiffener has a recess with 2 loops to hold a water bottle, throw bag or accessory of your choice, behind the seat there are 2 more attachment loops.
We are huge fans of the seat and outfitting in the Joker. It is simple yet very effective and does everything you would ask of it. On sitting in the boat the first thing you notice is that the seat sits ever so slightly higher than in other boats, which makes the boat feel slightly smaller and tighter fitting which is something we love. The hip pads on the seat are not overly aggressive, they give you a loving squeeze as you slip into seat and do not dig in or cause any irritation. One added bonus is they come with plenty of shims to help you get the perfect fit and the 2 buckles either side make removing and adjusting the hip pads a cinch.
The backrest is adjusted and secured by a rope and jamming cleat system rather than the ratchet style systems we see more and more of nowadays. We found this does the job perfectly well and does not slip. It maybe even did the job too well as we found it very easy to over tighten the backrest. It’s something we are sure to get used to very quickly.
Down the front of the boat is nicely angled bulkhead footrest. Whatever they’ve done here just works and well.
The Joker like all the boats in the Spade range is finished with plastic coated metal grab handles, they are nicely shaped and if knocked are unlikely to burr up. Last but not least they’ve managed to squeeze a drain bung into a the thin and slice-y tail.
On the water:
In the half slice world it is common to see boats more biased towards the the tail, causing the bows to sit high and the tail almost being under the water as soon as you get in. This is not the case with the Joker, on first putting it in the water you immediately see how well balanced it is. This balance gives the Joker a nice long water line and as soon as you start putting power down you realise how fast this boat is. In our flat water tests the Joker proved to be the quickest half slice we have paddled.
The long water line and well defined rails on the hull help the Joker track well, really well. If you are a fan of paddling slalom boats you will for sure feel at home in the Joker.
The slightly higher seat allows the paddler to get more reach and power with each stroke but is not so high that it affects the stability of the boat.
Creating a boat with this much balance and speed does mean the boat has to sacrifice in some other areas, and for the Joker this is in it’s ability to tail squirt. The amount of volume just behind cockpit makes it a little more difficult to initiate a turn. We did not find this too much of a problem as we like to paddle our boats on bigger water and the extra tail volume is confidence inspiring but playful when it needs to be. However if you like a boat you can stand vertically and sit with the tail down all day (or all night, if you like star gazing) you might want to look elsewhere.
You won’t find silly amounts of bow rocker here, but there is enough and it works in harmony with the rest of the boat. The bow stays nice and dry on those bigger days and keeps the boat skipping along.
We love the Joker, it’s simple outfitting has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It is comfy and works extremely well.
This boat begs to be paddled, if you aren’t chomping at the bit to get going you know the boat underneath is. It’s the perfect measure of trackability vs dipability, words that don’t actually exist, but I bet you know what we mean.
Like the rest of the Spade range the Joker is well built, clean looking and available in great fun colour ways.
It appears this Joker is pretty serious. Big thumbs up from us.
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