Thursday, November 09, 2017

Mizuno Wave Rider 21 Review: Strongly Divided Opinions

Article by Dave Ames with Peter Stuart

Mizuno Wave Rider 21
Stack Height 30mm heel / 18mm forefoot, 12mm heel-toe offset
Men’s Size 9 (9.6 oz/272 g) - - Women’s Size 8 (8.3 oz/235 g) (Running Warehouse)


Dave: In addition to several smaller updates, the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 received a new wave plate and a U4icX foam heel wedge that give the shoe a softer landing and added responsiveness. Building off of those updates, the Mizuno Wave Rider 21 retains the midsole and outsole design of the Wave Rider 20 while incorporating a reformatted upper and a new, premium sockliner that should improve the fit and comfort.

Because of the new design, the men’s Wave Rider 21 weighs 0.8 ounces less than the previous version while the women’s weighs 0.3 ounces less.

My all time favorite Mizuno Rider was the 13, a bunch of years back.  (Editor Note: It was our Wave Rider 20 reviewer Coby's as well see his RTR review). This is a shoe I continuously used (14,15,16,17, etc) as my go to trainer, back when I was younger, fitter and trained a hell of a lot harder!  Over the years, the Wave Rider series began to get stiffer and stiffer in the wave plate and I steered away from the brand as I began to be intrigued and “brain washed” by the lower drop movement that began to take the run specialty biz by storm.  Note:  It’s been a bunch of years since I have run in a Mizuno, so I was happy to take the lead via Sam on this one and give the all new 21 a try!

Peter: Dave, I too loved the Wave Rider 13. That was a terrific shoe--it’s been a while but if memory serves it was a great mix of cushion and snap. I have occasionally tried on a Wave Rider since, and may have bought one--but I’m sure I returned it. I was excited to try a new Wave Rider and hoping for a good utility shoe.

An update to the 20, the new 21 uses a new Dual Zone Mesh in the forefoot to improve breathability and flexibility.  

The heel collar has also been softened for increased comfort.  A new anatomical sockliner was added as well for better underfoot and feel.   
Dave:  Upon initial step in the Rider 21, feels quite nice.  The upper worked extremely well in molding my foot and noticed no immediate issues where hot spots could occur.  I am a size 9 in trainers and I did notice that it was a tad small on me (felt better as I ran) - - but I may suggest going up a half size in this shoe.  The shoe laces were a bit long.
Peter: Step-in to the 21 was nice. The shoe feels cushioned, the upper holds the foot well and my hopes were high. True to size for me.


The midsole in the 21, shadows what worked well in the 20, just simply adding a better upper around the foot.  To maintain the lightweight and responsive ride of its predecessor, the Wave Rider 21 includes U4ic midsole foam with a U4icX heel wedge to offer responsive cushioning and a soft landing under the heel. It also incorporates an identical Cloudwave plate for additional underfoot spring.

Dave:  I was pleasantly surprised by how powerful the Rider 21 was after a few runs.  The Cloudwave plate in the forefoot allowed for a significant amount of pop, and gave quick heel to toe transition on both easy mileage days and a tempo day for me.   

Peter: There’s SO. MUCH. MIDSOLE on this shoe. There’s the plate, the foam, the wedge. Oy Vey. The drop is epic at 12 mm and the heel feels really built up and plastic-like. There might be some decent foam in there, but I couldn’t even feel it as the whole midsole feels so stiff to me that I can’t get a decent stride.

Dave:  Here’s where we run into a problem.  The shoe is extremely loud!  Like “slappy” loud...even walking around in it.  The beefed up outsole, combined with the stiff wave plate make this thing hear you the runner coming for miles.  Not sure I could get used to that all the time while running.  Note: I just paid attention to nature and my mind drifted away from the musical symphony on my foot.  Durability wise, I can see that this shoe will be built for the long haul, compared to previous Rider models.  It is a high mileage trainer for sure.  

Peter: Yup, they’re loud and, for me, feel incredibly graceless. Every step I’ve taken in these shoes has been a fight not to turn home to get different shoes on. Again, there’s so much going on that I can’t even feel the road--but I can sure hear it.

Dave:  Other than the shoe being loud upon footstrike, I am quite pleased with the overall ride of the Wave Rider 21!  It brings back many memories of way early models, which I absolutely loved.  Mizuno struggled for a few years with the Rider, but in my opinion it’s back and feels great.  I had some great runs in it (easy miles, tempo) and plan on using it throughout its entire life cycle in prep for LA Marathon 2018.  It’s extremely smooth and boasts a solid heel to toe transition.  My gait has some pop to it, which I love coming from a trainer.

Peter: As you may have figured out by now, I do not like the ride of the Wave Rider. The ride of these is stiff, clunky and unforgiving for me. I’m glad to see that Dave likes them--and it’s nice to remember how subjective running shoe reviews can be. For me this shoe is a non-starter. I fear having to run in them again.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dave:  My only issues with the shoe in terms of fixes would be how can we make this thing not be so “slappy?”  The shoe laces were a tad long for me and the colorway was a bit, blah.  But in terms of sales, greys and blacks are safe and I know this baby is selling.  At the $120 price point this is a solid daily trainer for anyone looking for a solid smooth shoe.  It’s perfect for easy recovery days and your long runs, but also felt decent (I was skeptical) when kicking it uptempo.  I’ll pull it again for another threshold day for sure.

Peter: As I mentioned in the ride section above these are not the shoe for me. I couldn’t get any rhythm or joy running in them. There’s too much shoe for me and they feel like they work against my stride. It’s a bummer.


Mizuno Wave Rider 21 vs. Skechers Performance Go Run Ride 6:  
Dave:  Though on completely different platforms, I found these 2 shoes to be quite similar.  Very stiff with a ton of snap.  I’d say the upper advantage goes to Skechers Performance on this one, but it’s very close.  You'll pull a tad more room in the toe box in the Ride 6.  Mizuno durability wins out.
Mizuno Wave Rider 21 vs. New Balance Vazee Pace
Dave:  If we’re talking firm here, these two will go head to head.  While Vazee Pace has been on the shelves for a bit, I almost get the same feel from both of these shoes.  Both providing a nice forefoot snap, which I absolutely love in the trainer.  Both lock you in well in the heel and have a solid midfoot fit.  Durability goes to the Rider 21.

For Dave and Peter's bios see our Reviewers Bio Page here
For Dave's Ame For It Run Coaching service, personalized and one on one, click here

The Wave Rider was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Anonymous said...

Is the Wave a Rider 21 firmer than the Saucony Ride 10?

Unknown said...

Maybe its too late to answer your question. Anyway, if some runners are in between the Ride 10 and Rider 21 (e.g. you can get both of them for <100$/€ now) - the Rider is def firmer than the Ride 10. I compared both of them and for me, the Rider was the better choice because I need some stability!