Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo Flat Pedal MTB Shoe Review

The Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo flat pedal mountain bike shoes are a solid choice for trail riding, eco-friendly or not.
northwave tailwhip eco evo flat pedal bike shoe, profile

The Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo takes the popular Tailwhip flat pedal MTB shoe and gives it a green makeover that promises the same great performance. Priced the same as the non-Eco Evo version, this sustainable option should be a no-brainer.

Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo shoe specs

  • Fit: slightly large for size; consider choosing the smaller size if you’re on the fence
  • Weight: 465g per shoe (size 45EU)
  • Price: $120.99
  • Buy from Northwave.

Out of the box the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo flat pedal shoes feel stiff. However after the first 25 miles of riding my samples became noticeably broken in and much more flexible. From that point on they have remained at about the same level of stiffness which I’d rate a four on a ten-point scale of Crocs to carbon road bike shoes. Torsionally they’re more stiff than they are from front to back which makes for a good balance between hike-a-bike comfort and pedal efficiency.

northwave tailwhip eco evo sole

The Michelin rubber sole delivers excellent flat pedal grip. The Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evos dig into pins without getting chewed up right away. The sole is quite flat with just a slight rise at the toe, and does not wrap the toe itself like some MTB shoes. The toe does, however, have some reinforcement which works well to protect from rocks and roots.

Off the bike the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo pedals grip well on dry surfaces; you can basically climb a vertical wall in them. Once things get wet or loose it’s a different story. I found the tread pattern quickly packs with clay and the shoes are no match for slippery wet roots. I wore the Trailwhip Eco Evo shoes for some wet-weather trail work and slid around the hillside all afternoon.

Fortunately even packed with clay or slicked with moisture the Northwave Evo Eco shoes continue to grip pinned flat pedals extremely well. The idea is to stay on the pedals as much as possible anyway, right?

Northwave markets the Tailwhip Eco Evo as a summer/spring shoe, and the uppers do appear to offer a medium amount of ventilation. On one sub-freezing night ride my feet stayed warm in the Eco Evos with a pair of thick wool socks; for me, this is actually a four-season shoe.

Without a DWR coating these shoes aren’t water resistant which may explain the summer/spring designation. I’ve stepped in a creek a couple times and found water doesn’t seep inside immediately, though it does soak in eventually.

The Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo shoes use a simple lace system with a stretchy lace keeper to prevent the bows from getting sucked into your drivetrain.

Overall I found the Eco Evos are quite comfortable. The uppers are padded and all the seams are well-placed to avoid any hot spots or annoying pinches. The tongue is only attached at the bottom so it does tend to slide to the side over time. Spongy but firm insoles are comfortable on and off the bike and don’t feel overly flat footed.

As far as protection goes, the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo flat pedal shoes offer a medium amount. They’re undergunned for aggressive gravity riding but should hold up to regular trail riding abuse for at least a season or two.

Eco cred

So what makes the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo, eco? All of the materials above the footbed are made from 100% recycled materials, and even the Michelin rubber sole is blended using more than a quarter recycled material.

Northwave isn’t the first to come out with an eco flat pedal shoe; Adidas Five Ten has been incorporating recycled materials in their Freeriders since at least 2021.

In my mind, the idea of recycled materials conjures an image of empty plastic water bottles collected in a blue bin, destined to be melted down and magically turned into a shoe, or whatever. As far as I can tell that’s partially correct for some materials (like the RePET uppers and laces on the Tailwhip Eco Evos) but there’s more to the story. Northwave makes it clear some of the recycled materials they use — for the rubber soles in particular — are pre-consumer as opposed to post-consumer. In the case of the soles, they’re basically using leftover bits of raw material from another manufacturing process.

Understandably not everyone cares for this level of detail when it comes to understanding eco-friendly products. In fact I probably would not have paid this much attention if I weren’t writing a review. Northwave provides a level of transparency that goes beyond buzz words which should satisfy the most committed green buyers but also folks like me who are at times eco-skeptical. I don’t know if these shoes are as sustainably produced as others that also claim to be eco-friendly, but I do get the sense that Northwave is being honest about what they’re doing.

Differences between the Northwave Tailwhip and Tailwhip Eco Evo shoes

Northwave says the Trailwhip Eco Evo offers the same level of performance as the regular Tailwhip shoes. Since I haven’t tested both I can’t say if this is true, but there are clearly differences between them.

Northwave claims the standard Tailwhips come with no-stretch laces, however clearly the RePET laces on my test sample do stretch quite a bit. The stretchy laces make it more difficult to get a tight fit, though to be fair there isn’t a lot of pulling up with flat pedal shoes like there is with clipless shoes.

Looking at the two Tailwhip versions, the Eco shoe uses circle-shaped grommets for the laces instead of ovalized. I don’t know what difference, if any, this makes to the shoe but it does give a slightly different look.

Speaking of the look, the Tailwhip Eco Evos come in three colors — black, blue, and green (tested) — unlike the (boring) neutral tones offered with the standards. I think the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo shoes look cooler than the original, though obviously that’s doesn’t affect performance.

Pros and cons of the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo flat pedal shoes


  • Excellent pedal grip
  • Comfortable on and off the bike
  • Good level of protection without being overly heavy
  • Casual look


  • Off-bike grip is poor in wet conditions
  • Little water resistance

Bottom line

Northwave prints the acronym ACBC on the Tailwhip Eco Evos which means “anything can be changed.” It’s an encouraging sentiment that speaks to progression, but also hints at the brand’s sustainability goal with this particular product.

I suppose the real question is, if the shoe wasn’t “eco-friendly,” would I still recommend it? My answer is an emphatic yes. Green or not, the Northwave Tailwhip Eco Evo is a great flat pedal mountain bike shoe that works well and looks good too.