Product Test: DMT K1

AN ITALIAN DIRT SLIPPER

The DMT KM1 for all your gravel needs

Like a variety of the products that are now becoming popular with the gravel set, many started life as a lightweight mountain bike option. The DMT KM1 is no different, as it was originally born with cross-country and marathon racing in mind. Using the knowledge and experience of team riders Tiago Ferreira and Hans Becking, DMT is pushing the limits of material, comfort and performance for a gravel-friendly show with their new knit KM1.

We had our first experience with DMT’s knit technology when the Italian shoe brand rolled out the knit KR1 road shoes, which also stood out owing to its single BOA enclosure. 

THE TECH

At first glance the DMT KM1 doesn’t look like many of the other off-road offerings on the market. In a search to improve weight, breathability and eliminate pressure points, DMT decided that a knit construction would offer all of that and more if done correctly. The KM1 has a single IP1 BOA dial with micro-adjust in both directions, as well as a full release. This single-dial system is paired with a robust knit upper that has just enough stretch through the center to get your foot in. The knit material is reinforced with internal webbing.

The carbon sole offers a high level of stiffness throughout, and DMT has added traction lugs made with a dual-compound rubber that they partnered with Michelin to produce. The dual compound offers traction, as well as rigidity, for a wide range of surfaces. There are two traction cleat mounts for those muddy days when you need to dig in deeper when off the bike. The toe also has an extended rubber layer for added protection and durability. Finally, there is the two-bolt style cleat mount that has plenty of fore-aft adjustment.

THE RIDE

To be perfectly honest, when we first slipped on the DMTs we were hesitant about the fit. The feeling of the soft and pliable upper knit material left us thinking we would need more support. We did like that the shape of the insole offers lots of arch support, something we normally need to use an aftermarket insole to get. Mounting the cleats was simple, and we were impressed with the amount of adjustment area the cleat section offered. 

Once on the bike the shoes feel much different than they did when we first tried them on in the office. The carbon sole is so stiff and supportive that we didn’t notice any movement in the upper. Instead, the upper sort of conforms to your foot like a sock and is extremely comfortable. Now, if you are the type that ratchets your shoes down super tight, the Boa cable could dig into the top of your foot a bit. For us, we found that a medium-to-light tension was more than enough. 

The knit material and medium tension allowed our foot to have very even and good blood flow, reducing swelling over long rides. This is one of the few shoes that we have tested that needed no supportive insole for our medium-high arch to prevent hot spots. 

One of the biggest drawbacks for us was when off the bike. The traction that the Michelin rubber offers is great, but our heel lifts in the shoe when walking. There is no real heel retention, and the knit, sock-like material doesn’t counteract the stiff sole. 

One of the biggest wins is the section of rubber between the heel pad and cleat lugs. This section was instrumental when riding gravel and getting on and off your bike. This allows you to step the arch of your foot onto the pedal without slipping off and striking your shin or calf.

THE VERDICT

Despite those initial trepidations, after the first ride all of our mixed feelings changed for the better, and we came away impressed. The mix of stiff sole and pliable upper means all-day comfort with all-day performance. If you do a lot of hike-a-bike, then you might want to look for something different, but if you’re like us and try to remain in the saddle, then these are a top choice and have moved to the top of our short list of preferred gravel shoes. ν

PUNCH LINES

• Knit is good for riding but bad
for walking

• Pricey

• Great arch support

STATS

Price: $340

Weight: 657 grams (size 44)

Sizes: 37 to 47, with half sizes from 37.5 to 45.5

www.dmtcycling.com

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