DMT GK1 Gravel Shoes: First Impressions
Italian brand DMT Cycling’s line of performance cycling shoes have one thing in common: they all have a fully knit upper construction. We were interested to see how they performed in the real world, so we picked up a pair of the DMT GK1 Gravel Shoes for a closer look. Find Miles’ thoughts here…
DMT Cycling is all about knitted footwear. In fact, for the last 10 years, the Italian footwear manufacturer was producing knitted footwear for other brands, so it’s safe to say they’re experts in their craft. In 2018, they brought their technology into the cycling industry with the first road shoe featuring a fully knit upper. For this year, they’ve extended their Engineered 3D Knit technology to the entire DMT 2022 collection.
According to DMT, the lightweight, slightly elastic construction of a knitted shoe means a better fit, improved breathability, less bulk, and less weight. They use technical yarns and structures specific to each shoe and its intended use, ensuring that there’s “no compromise between comfort and performance.” The GK1 Gravel Shoes were released last year and caught our attention as a promising option for fast and light gravel riding, so DMT sent us a pair for this closer look.
The knitted upper pairs with a chunky Michelin outsole that DMT claims has a “softer flex for excellent pedaling and walking efficiency.” The cord eyelets for the lace-up closure are integrated throughout the sides of the shoe, and there is no tongue or method to open up the shoe besides loosening the laces. There are reinforced rubber overlays around the toe box and sides, small reflective detailing, and they are offered in sizes 37 to 46, with no half sizes, and three colours: Anthracite (grey), Bordeaux (red), and Ochre (yellow). While there’s no tongue, there is an extended heel cup with a small section of grippy material inside that grabs onto your heel, helping keep your foot in place.
According to DMT’s size chart, I’m a size 44 or 10 3/4 in US sizing. When they arrived, they certainly looked true-to-size, but I was quick to discover their greatest flaw. The lack of tongue or adjustable opening, paired with a narrow fit, made it quite difficult for me to get my feet into them. The knitted upper has some stretch, but not nearly enough to accommodate my heel and midfoot. The first few times, I actually gave up trying to get them on, which was mildly upsetting, because I wanted to be a fan. I was also sent a size 45 to experiment with, which was sightly easier to get on, but left far too much room beyond my toes to ride in comfortably. Back to the 44s I went. A few weeks later, I’m still cursing every time I have to put them on.
The DMT GK1 gravel shoes have a very narrow fit. While the length seems true-to-size, they’re clearly designed for riders with slim, low-volume feet. Once they are on, they have the potential to be quite comfortable, and I could feel the unique qualities of the knitted upper working its magic, but it was hard for me to log any real distance because of the fit. For reference, I don’t normally require wide-fitting shoes and have had luck with a wide range of brands. I consider my feet to be pretty standard in terms of width and size.
The GK1 shoes are a performance gravel shoe and are best suited to folks who spend most of their time pedalling—not pushing—their bike. They have a stiff sole that feels powerful on the bike, but a little awkward walking around, especially on uneven, hard surfaces. I found myself navigating some slippery rock recently and would have benefited from a more flexible shoe for better grip. The Michelin outside is quite chunky but uses a fairly hard compound that seems to grip better in soft terrain. After a few weeks of use, the tread isn’t showing any signs of early wear, which is promising.
It’s good to see DMT extend the same durability of the outsole up around the edges of the shoe. The rubber overlays protect the areas where the sole and knitted upper meet, while also shielding high-abrasion areas around the toe box and heel of the shoe. The knitted upper—the heart of the GK1’s design—has lived up to DMT’s claims of being breathable and lightweight. This also makes them best suited for warm/dry climates, and wouldn’t be my first choice for wet or cold weather riding, although they could easily be paired with shoe covers to make them work any time of year. The insole isn’t anything special and is quite thin, but I was happy to see the cleat nut plate is completely sealed off from the inside of the shoe, which should help keep water out when riding in the rain or when sloshing into puddles.
- Knit construction is lightweight and breathable
- Narrow fit for those with slim, low-volume feet
- No signs of early wear after a few hundred kilometres
- Narrow fit simply won’t work for some people
- Difficult to put on due to lack of tongue
- Stiff sole isn’t great for walking in
- Size Range: 36-47 EU
- Weight (as tested): 360 grams (44)
- Place of Manufacture: Bosnia
- Price: €219 (~$248 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: DMTCycling.com
I was excited to give DMT’s shoes a shot. I was in need of a new shoe for gravel rides, something slightly stiffer and lighter than my normal riding shoes, and the GK1 has a clean and minimal look that I liked. Unfortunately, the mix of a narrow fit and lack of tongue made them a little frustrating for me, and they’re clearly better suited for people with narrow, low-volume feet. If this sounds like you and you’re looking for a performance gravel shoe for long days on the bike, the DMT GK1s may well be a great option.
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