Just ahead of Tadej’s second Tour de France victory, DMT released their newest road cycling shoe – the Tadej Pogacar KR1 TDF version in – what else – TDF yellow. But there’s more to this shoe than just a signature & fancy color to enhance the already very nice KR1 line – like traditional laces, a super-stealth profile, and killer comfort from the one-piece knit upper. Let’s step in to my review…
DMT caught my eye a couple years back when they introduced their KR1 line at Eurobike (watch my video here), is was a super comfortable yet high performance road cycling shoe, that was also light, sleek and stylish.
The original version was a hi-vis orange, which complimented the PEZ kit very nicely – if I do say so. They were later released in more traditional black, and white versions.
DMT struck sponsorship gold – er, yellow – when Pán Pogacar (look it up..) won yellow at the 2020 Tour de France, and what better reason as an equipment supplier to launch an all new, slightly revised version of their top of the line KR1 road shoe?
Watch my unboxing video to get a feel for what’ll be like when you open your own pair…
3D Knitting Makes Everything Better
As well as several top-level features that make this shoe worthy of a TDF winner, the standout of them all is the comfort and support supplied by the 3D knit upper. 3D knitting allows the manufacturer to create a full seamless piece of fabric to fit around a three dimensional shape (ie: your foot), in a single knitting process.
The image from the DMT website shows a DMT technician holding an actual one-piece upper before it’s been bonded to the sole.
The 3D process was invented close to a decade ago, but has been refined in response to the growing demand for textile based clothing, in this case footwear, because of reduced demand for leather based shoes, and also because the 3D process has been shown to eliminate up to 60% of the waste from earlier production methods that involved cutting and trimming fabrics to fit different sized shoes.
For instance – the laces connect through loops that are channeled through knitted … channels. And that segues nicely to another feature of these shoes – the laces. As DMT’s first lace-up knitted shoe – the elimination of a BOA or strap-style enclosure makes for a much sleeker profile (see how the knot tucks away into a stealthy elastic pocket below). t also means fit for many feet shapes can be improved because the laces stretch around the curves and arch of the foot.
Indeed – the entire upper is knitted as one piece of fabric, but with variations in the knit to allow for different levels and strengths of support at different parts of the shoe.
Even the piece of fabric where the shoe tongue traditionally sits is part of the one-piece upper – and knitted as part of the upper as a stretchier section to better conform to various foot shapes.
The knitted upper also allows for very good breathability. Here you can see how light shines through and the various vent holes and textures of the fabric.
The heel cup of this TDF version is substantially lower than the original KR1 (right, above). I first thought this might be an issue holding my heel in place, but actually found no issues with my foot slipping around, thanks to extra gripper on the inside and the taller cuff. The lower overall height at the heel also makes slipping into the shoe easier. The DMT designer chose to lower the heel cup to create a completely different look, covering the foot as little as possible.
The heel cup and toe box are reinforced with a synthetic coating to add structure and support, while the top section around the ankle fits snug like a sock. Getting these on is best done with a shoe horn – which thankfully comes in the box.
The sole is full carbon fibre – light, stiff and strong. It’s shaped to add strength and reduce flex. The replaceable heel plate is more substantial than some other shoes, which makes it easier to walk around the coffee shop.
Cleat placement is easy thanks to marked guidelines on four side of the cleat, and a slot for Look’s Memory Cleat guide (although the shoes will take many different types of cleat/ pedal combos.)
The toe box is vented at add airflow for hot days.
I said it before when I first started riding the original KR1 – these shoes are incredibly comfortable – thanks to that 3D knit design. This knitting technology is now a few years old, and it’s very likely you already own a pair of knitted footwear. The big sports brands like Nike & Adidas have had knitted shoes in their lines for a few years, and you can see a sock-drawer full of startup footwear brands popping up on your social media feeds daily. I think I now have three pairs of non-cycling knitted footwear – and nothing beats them for comfort.
The beauty is that the knitted design allows the shoe to more easily conform and shape to a much wider range of foot shapes – including mine… and I’ll bet yours too.
I’ve been riding the original KR1 for a couple of seasons now, and have found it’s durability equal to its comfort. I do take care of my gear, and that means wearing covers when the weather throws a day of dirt and muck up, but after two seasons, the original KR1 is looking almost as good as day 1. The synthetic fabric is tough, the stitching has held together, and I’ve got only good things about the KR1.
Outta the box, the KR1 TDF version looked really interesting to me because I’ve never worn a lace up road shoe, and the way DMT has engineered an outta sight stretchy pouch to stow the bow is so cool that you can barely see there’s a knotted lace tucked up in there. Very sleek.
The laces are a stretchy material as well – which allows lots of options to tension the shoe across a big variety of foot shapes – and that’s probably why they feel so good.
My only real concern was whether the lower profile of the ankle section of the shoe would allow my heel to slip out. Turns out it does as intended and has held my heel in place as promised.
The sole has proven its worth under my original KR1’s, and is as stiff as I need it for my 140lbs climber’s build. Everyone has a different way of interpreting tactile information, so I can only comment on myself, but if this show is stiff enough for a Tour de France winner, I’m sure it’ll work for you.
Priced at US$499 these are obviously at the high end of the shoe range, but could very well be worth it if you’re looking for a shoe with as proven record winning the world’s biggest race, offers top level comfort and durability, and looks pretty different from most other shoes out there.
They come in 20 sizes – from 37 – 47 and half-size increments.
• See more and buy ’em at the DMT website here.