Northwave Tailwhip ECO EVO Flat Pedal Shoe

Vital Rating:
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Tested: Northwave Tailwhip ECO EVO
An eco-friendly flat pedal shoe that is very comfortable on the foot.
Vital Review

Northwave is on an eco-journey, looking to minimize their impact on the planet as they continue to produce cutting edge apparel and equipment for life on boards and bikes. To help them do so, they’ve teamed up with “ACBC” – short for “Anything Can Be Changed” - a leading B Corporation consultancy in applied sustainability for fashion and textile industries. The project with ACBC had the main goal of producing a new bike shoe model that introduces Northwave on the universe of circular materials. The result is the Tailwhip ECO EVO, designed after Northwave’s classic Tailwhip model. Read on to learn about how we’ve been getting along with it!

Northwave Tailwhip ECO EVO Highlights

  • The Tailwhip Eco Evo is Northwave’s first cycling shoe with a 53.34% “responsible impact”
  • Sole composed of 26% ReRubber, pre-used and recycled rubber made in collaboration with Michelin
  • Upper made of 100% RePET, recycled polyester
  • Lining made of 100% RePET, recycled polyester
  • Insole made with 86% ReFOAM, recycled polyurethane foam
  • The laces are made of 100% RePET, easily stowable in the elasticated loopGrips
  • MSRP: $120.99 USD

Initial Impressions

As you might have guessed from the name, the Tailwhip EVO ECO is the more ecologically friendly evolution of the Tailwhip EVO, a skate-style shoe designed specifically for mountain biking. The uppers are constructed from RePet, a recycled polyester fabric derived from discarded PET bottles. Northwave also made use of ReFoam and ReRubber for the heel cup, insole, and outsole – recycled foam and rubber, respectively.

For the outsole, Northwave turned to Michelin who produced a hybrid sole composed of 26% recycled rubber blended with the fresh stuff to keep the grip and shock absorption characteristics high in this crucial area. The result is a shoe that Northwave says is produced with a 53.34% responsible impact, which represents their first step on this ecologically driven journey.

In terms of features, we note the wrap-around stitching of the sole, always good for longevity, while a reinforced toebox looks after your little piggies. The heel area has extra padding to help keep the shoe on your foot. The insole is quite thin and soft to the touch, with moderate arch support provided by the shape of the midsole. In terms of weight, it is a little bit on the portly side. We weighed our size 12 US sample at 510 grams, compared to 430 grams for a Fox Union flat and 390 grams for a Five Ten Freerider Pro in the same sizes.

On The Trail

When we first slipped our feet into the new Tailwhip we were struck by the very high level of comfort on offer. The insole is quite soft, without being too spongy, and the uppers do a good job of cradling your foot without any unwanted pressure points. The midsole also offers good shock absorption while remaining stiff enough for proper power transfer to the pedals.

We have spent many days both riding and hanging out in the Tailwhips, with equally good results even during really long days. The shoe manages to be both very plush and very supportive, which is a somewhat unusual combo. Feedback from the pedals is slightly muted by the stiffness of the midsole, but you can still feel what’s going on under your feet.

What about that all-important grip then? We’ve had good experiences with Michelin outsoles before, and this partially recycled version is no exception – it seems to deliver the same kind of grip we enjoyed previously. How does it compare with the market leaders in the grip department – Five Ten, Specialized, and Fox? With your heels down and good pressure on the pedals, the rubber and the sole pattern work well together to produce very high levels of grip that inspire confidence in most riding situations. It’s when things go a little south that you notice a difference in surface stickiness, which is where the aforementioned best-in-class soles really stand out. Having said that, these Northwave shoes definitely work well enough for us to recommend them for pretty much any kind of riding, short of the most aggressive kind – especially if you place a premium on comfort and shock absorption.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Northwave has been making quality footwear for a long time, and the Tailwhip ECO EVO follows this proud tradition. It’s a very comfortable shoe that will do almost everything equally well, from long days out in the saddle to kicking it around town. The grip produced by the Michelin outsoles will stand you in good stead for all but the most demanding kind of riding, although you should note that it does fall a bit behind the market leaders in this aspect. If comfort is paramount to you, and you worry about your ecological footprint, you can certainly put this one on your shortlist.

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About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 51 // Years Riding MTB: 19 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord


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Northwave Tailwhip ECO EVO Flat Pedal Shoe
Riding Type
Dirt Jump / Slopestyle
Enduro / All-Mountain
Freeride / Bike Park
Upper: 100% RePET, recycled polyester
Lining: 100% RePET, recycled polyester
Insole: 86% ReFOAM, recycled polyurethane foam
Laces: 100% RePET, easily stowable in the elasticated loop
Rubber Type
Michelin ReRubber
36-49 EUR
4.5-14.5 USA Men's
Black, Green, Blue
The Hybrid flat sole of the Tailwhip Eco Evo features Michelin ReRubber (26%), a blend composed of virgin rubber and postproduction recycled rubber scraps.
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Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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