Monday, July 03, 2017

Minzuno Wave Rider 20 Review: In Love Again!

Article by Coby Jacobus

Mizuno Wave Rider 20
Category: Neutral daily trainer with some light stability features from the CloudWave plate.
Weight: M9 10.4 oz/295 g, W8 8.6 oz/244 g

Stack: 30mm heel/ 18mm forefoot, 12mm drop

MSRP: $119.95. Available now.

The Mizuno Wave Rider is a lightweight, neutral, well-cushioned daily trainer for the faster paced high mileage runner.  Weighing in at only 10.4oz (size 9) it is a durable, yet responsive shoe.

Fit: True to size.  I wear an 8.5 in every single running shoe and it fit me perfectly.

Pros: Light for a daily trainer; Improved Cloud Wave Plate that was noticeable the first run. Improved, more durable, upper.  It is an easy in, easy out shoe. (explained below) Mizuno rarely discontinues shoes and the Wave Rider is in it’s 20th upgrade, meaning you don’t have to worry about loving this shoe and then having your heart broken in 6 months ….ahem…NIKE.

Cons:  I found previous models of Wave Rider to wear out around 280 miles for me – meaning they would go hard or would loose the softness.  If I pushed to 300+ miles I immediately noticed it in my legs and needed a new pair.  I have put roughly 150+ miles on this pair and feel like the improved Cloud Wave Technology and new U4ic and softer U4icX midsole materials might help get the extra miles in the shoe…but only time will tell.

My Wave Rider Story

From 1994 through 2003, I was a loyal Nike runner. However, upon getting frustrated with ever-changing shoes, a friend told me to try a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders.  I quickly became a Wave Rider loyalist and have run in nearly every version from 2003 until 2011.  From 2009-2014 I was lucky enough to coach HS XC/Track at Manchester Central in Manchester, NH.  In 2010 the seven of the top eight athletes I coached all ran in the Wave Rider 13.  (Including myself, we had 8 pairs of WR13’s running though the city!)

In 2010 the Wave Rider 13 carried my boys to the New England Championship XC title in Thetford, VT.  My athletes averaged around 55-60 miles a week all summer and throughout the fall and we didn’t have one running injury or blister.  If that isn’t a testament to the quality of the Wave Rider 13, I don’t know what is. 

When the Wave Rider 14 came out EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY ATHLETES abandoned the shoe and began running in something different.  The complaint was the same…an issue with the midsole turned them off, myself included.
The change to the Wave Rider 14’s midsole, plus the increased cost (went from $80 to $100+) made me switch back to the Nike Pegasus, which I’ve been in ever since the Wave Rider 14.  

When I was asked by to wear-test and write a review for the Wave Rider 20 I was thrilled, as I had once loved the shoe.  

My Pace and Running Terrain
I currently run mostly manicured trails (ie non-technical) and roads if I am pressed for time.  When I was running in the MWR14, I was running about 60-70 miles a week with a high week of 80; averaging about 6:20/mile on most runs....I was pretty fit then. I was making my comeback from having a kidney transplant and ran 2:41 at the Houston Marathon in 2010.  Currently I am heading out the door around 8:00 pace and finishing my runs around 6:40 pace averaging between 7:00-7:15 per mile.  

The Wave Rider 20 has re-designed CloudWave Technology in the heel and it really was “like running on a trampoline.”  

At the heel the CloudWave is embedded between Mizuno's new U4ic midsole(white) and new lighter U4icX midsole (red) which is a softer and more cushioned than U4ic. U4ic foam is supposed to be 33% more responsive and durable than the foam in previous models.

The WR20 has durable X10 carbon rubber at the heel and a full coverage of blown rubber up front which include "Flex Controllers" which Mizuno says act as miniature wave plates to increase flexibility and reduce weight. 
The WR20 also has an improved (more durable and breathable) new engineered mesh upper as well.  I like to describe this shoe is an “easy in, easy out” shoe.  Meaning, unlike some shoes, it is quick to lace and quick to unlace.  For example, the Hoka One Clayton, I found to be incredible difficult and frustrating to lace and unlace.  As I put the WR20 through the paces I couldn’t help myself by saying, “WOW, I love these shoes!”  In fact, the more I ran in the shoe I wondered why I ever left them in the first place.  

My very first day in the WR20 I took them out for a 10+ mile road run.  It did take me about 3 miles to get used to the shoe again but somewhere around mile four I remember being blown away and smiling from ear to ear.  I was just amazed at how soft, responsive and smooth the shoe was.  

As I logged more and more miles of road, moderate trail and even some rugged trail I just kept saying to myself, “my god, I love these shoes.” 

Hands down this shoe is a 10/10 more me -  I would purchase another pair when these have run out of miles.  I absolutely love them! 

Bottom line: If you are a neutral runner who is looking for a new pair of shoes or if you were once a Mizuno lover who left, this is the shoe that will bring you back…you won’t be disappointed.

Score 9.9/ 10
-0.1 for low firm forefoot stack. The only minor downside is that some people may notice is that the forefoot seemed a bit thin at 18mm stack there.  Now, I only noticed this on my first run and didn't notice further after only a couple miles. 

I have spent most of this spring running in the Pegasus and Hoka One Clayton.  When comparing the WR to the Pegasus I noticed that they run the same - meaning that they feel and ride the same - the biggest difference is the WR's cloud wave technology in the heel, it is amazing.  You feel like you don't loose energy into the ground.  The cloud wave literally feels like a trampoline and you feel your energy bouncing back as you stride off the ground!  When comparing the WR to the Hoka Clayton they blow the Clayton out of the water.  The ride of the WR is much smoother and way more responsive.  Again, the Cloud Wave in the WR produces a better, more smooth ride, by far!  Lastly the WR is an easy shoe to get into vs. the Clayton, which I found to be a pain to lace up and unlace.  The Wave Rider beats them in both in ride, comfort, breath-ability and energy retention.  I would buy another pair in an instant.  

For something lighter and faster from Mizuno with Cloud Wave see our review of the Wave Shadow here

Coby Jacobus Run Bio
Road Trail Run is thrilled to welcome Coby, and wonder dog Gracie! as Road Trail Run tester reviewers . While a rising college distance star Coby had a kidney transplant and has come back stronger than ever with a 2:40 marathon, an epic 9 hour winter FKT run and snow shoe traverse of the White Mountains Presidential Range(NH) and many mountaineering exploits, including guiding on Mount Rainer. He coached Manchester Central High School to a New England Championship and one of his former students recently ran the recent Olympic Trials in the steeplechase.
The Wave Rider 20 was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
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