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Many cycling shoe brands are experimenting with alternative materials, with many slipping a knit version into their range. DMT has been producing knitted footwear for other sports brands for over 10 years and transferred this technology over to cycling. Committed to the knit technology, DMT’s entire range now uses 3D knit technology.
The Italian shoe brand is best known for their Tour de France winning road shoes so often slip under our off-road radar, however, at the Core Bike show this year the GK1 gravel shoes immediately caught our attention.
Released last year, the GK1s are a lace-up gravel shoe that looks to combine everything you might want from a gravel shoe for summertime riding, but how do they match up to the best gravel bike shoes around?
Design and specifications
Let's start with the upper which uses a 3D, one-piece knitted upper developed by DMT who says that it uses variable thickness and knit structures for ultimate comfort. DMT say the aim of producing cycling shoes with knitted uppers is to have no compromise between fit and support due to the slightly elastic construction.
The lace closure anchors into cord eyelets that are integrated into the upper and extend to the sole. This should increase durability but also add a little extra structure to the upper.
The heel section is quite tall and shaped to hug the heel, inside it's lined inside with little grippers presumably to combat heel lift. There are no options to adjust arch support and the insole features a lot of perforations for more ventilation.
DMT has paired up with Michelin to produce the sole which features large tread blocks not dissimilar to Rapha’s Explore shoes or many of Giro’s off-road shoes, all of which we find great to walk in. Extending from the sole are reinforced overlays to protect the knitted upper from scuffs and scrapes from flying debris or walking around.
While the uppers feel very light and comfortable when the GK1s are on, actually getting the shoe on is a struggle. The tongueless design means you can't open the shoe wide so I found it required a lot of wriggling to jam my feet into them. I think I have quite normal-shaped feet and find most shoes reasonably comfortable, but I found the GK1 fit to be very narrow which resulted in hot spots along the edges of my foot.
With those two considerations, the GK1s are only going to suit riders with very narrow feet, however, even if you do have slim feet I would recommend trying them on as the laces and one-piece uppers add less in the way of additional tension compared to a traditional tongue setup. I had no problems getting enough lace tension, that said, if you do have feet narrow enough to be comfortable in the GK1s, you may struggle to get the shoe tight enough as the laces don’t offer much more closure than the stretch afforded from the knit materials.
You expect knitted shoes to be very airy, however, there is a layer of suede-like material on the inside which actually blocks a lot of the potential airflow. The GK1 would not be my go-to in hot weather, although it certainly opens up more use cases for temperate climate riders. The internal lining does nothing to stop water though and even a puddle splash will leave you with wet toes.
The soles sit in a middle ground in terms of stiffness and in high power situations they were flexy, although it could have been exaggerated by the aforementioned narrow fit discomfort. When wandering around, however, the broad, slightly curved, tread gives good stability. The sole isn’t so stiff that it feels like you are in clogs and the hard rubber lugs can dig into soft terrain for traction if your hike-a-biking.
The large central channel makes locating the cleat into the pedal and clipping in easy. You will want to pay special attention when setting your cleats up as DMT hasn’t printed any markings for guidance.
It's the upper of the GK1s that really define the shoe. DMT says that the use of a knitted upper means there is no compromise between fit and support thanks to the slightly elastic construction. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this to be true. The tongue-less upper makes them difficult to get on and the fit only suits those with narrow feet. If you do have narrow, low-volume feet however, you may find that you can’t tension the laces enough.
On the face of it, they are a good-looking and well-made set of shoes that are best suited for dry riding. The sole is a good balance between stiffness and walkability and the chunky tread offers plenty of grip. However, the difficulty to put them on, lack of adjustment, and narrow fit mean they will only suit riders with svelte feet.
Tech specs: DMT GK1
- Price: $194 / £189
- Weight: 648g (per pair, size EU43)
- Sizes: EU 37 to 46
- Half sizes: No
- Colors: Black, Brown, Red