Sunday, August 09, 2020

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Review

Article by Jeff Beck

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 ($130)

Introduction

Mizuno has officially entered the next generation midsole material war, and they came to play. The Wave Rider 24 is the first running shoe featuring ENERZY (that proof of concept limited bulbous casual shoe doesn’t count) and if this is an example of what is to come then Mizuno is going to be back in the zeitgeist again. This is Mizuno’s traditional daily trainer, made to fit in your rotation as the meat and potatoes shoe that you wear a few times a week, for easy miles and even some uptempo stuff. This Wave Rider is a leap forward from previous iterations, and it feels much more substantial underfoot in the protection department, but doesn’t overdo it to feeling overweight. Like the vast majority of Mizuno running shoes, it still has a plastic Wave Plate running through the heel to midfoot, designed to give the shoe a springy ride.


Pros:

-Upper is breathable with minimal overlays

-Segmented outsole gives the shoe lots of flexibility with good traction & durability

-New midsole material is impressive, much more substantial than stack #s would suggest

-Toebox and underfoot protection both ample enough to run 10+ miles even for bigger runners


Cons:

-Segmented outsole has large gaps of exposed midsole, seeing lots of early wear

-Wave plate in heel feels like a relic of times past that adds weight but not much performance

-Wide or flat-footed runners may find the midfoot too narrow

Stats

Weight:: 9.9 ounces men's / 281g (US9)  / 8.2 ounces women's / 249g (US8)

  Samples: 10.6 ounces / 301 grams men’s US10.5

Stack Height: 20 mm (forefoot) 32 mm (heel

Available Now $130


Tester Profile

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 


First Impressions and Fit

It’s been a few years since I logged any miles in a Wave Rider, last giving the Wave Rider 19 a chance. Historically the Wave Rider has been Mizuno’s run-of-the-mill daily trainer, nothing too outlandish. Their Camry, Civic, or Altima, if you will. While that is still true of the WR24, adding the much improved ENERZY midsole material is a massive step up for the Japanese company. For years most runners have learned that “Mizuno soft” is codeword for “really really firm”, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but can be frustrating for runners looking for a plush ride. Not to say that ENERZY is super squishy, but it brings much more substantial cushioning than the previous midsoles like U4ic or XPOP. Fit is spot on true-to-size. 

There is almost a perfect thumb’s width from the end of my big toe to the end of the 10.5, I would not recommend sizing up or down.


Upper

The Wave Rider 24’s upper uses Mizuno’s Engineered Air Mesh, and there is some truth in advertising there. It is very breathable, even though it isn’t the thinner upper around, and it is an enormous improvement over the WaveKnit that Mizuno has used in a number of their models. 

The engineered mesh is a fairly dense weave, with slits in the outer layer showing the layers deeper in. There’s not much in the way of overlays, and the heel counter is pretty robust; there’s not a lot of give in the back. 

Again, compared to the heel counter in last year’s Wave Sky WaveKnit 3, this heel collar is fairly minimal, and somewhat padded, as opposed to getting close to skate shoe territory of upper protection.


The lack of overlays doesn’t hurt the shoe’s performance any. I even used the Wave Rider 24 for a 7 mile trail run (pretty tame, but there were a few technical sections) and I would put the foot hold up with many trail shoes. It really locks things down.

Lastly, the toebox isn’t earth shatteringly big, but it is more than ample. The toe bumper is very minimal, with lots of give, so if you are exceptionally wide toed and you end up overhanging the platform, the upper will let you. But I have a relatively wide foot and appreciate a spacious toebox, and I have zero toebox complaints about this shoe.


Midsole

The star of the show, er shoe. I personally enjoy softer shoes, and Mizuno ENERZY means the entire brand is back on my list of shoes to consider. But the Wave Rider 24 isn’t all ENERZY, it combines their latest midsole material with U4ic and their Mizuno Wave plate, and the result is very good. They don’t break down which parts of the midsole are ENERZY vs U4ic, but the result is a very smooth riding shoe that protects the foot very well.

As with many Mizunos that use the Wave technology, there is a cutaway in the misole to show off the plastic plate. 


But unlike many of the others, the midsole is sculpted in a way to reduce the number of large rocks that can get lodged in the gap - an oddity I’ve experienced personally a handful of times. The only gripe I can make, is that the midfoot seems a bit on the narrow side. I didn’t experience any issues, but flat-footed runners, or runners with wide feet may not love how the shoe fits around the arch.


Outsole

Mizuno uses two types of rubber in the outsole. X10 carbon rubber for extra durability in the heel, and a softer blown rubber in the forefoot to increase the shoe’s cushioning and responsiveness. The outsole has multiple gaps and grooves to increase the shoe’s flexibility, and mission accomplished! This shoe has lots of flex in the front half. In nearly 30 miles of testing, I have started seeing some wear on the softer blown rubber in the front, but nothing egregious. 

I have not been able to experience any wet runs with the Wave Runner 24 (stupid summer monsoon storms not delivering!), but after taking them on the trail and having zero traction issues, I can’t imagine they would be a liability in the wet.


My only gripe with the outsole is the placement of a few of the grooves. As a midfoot striking supinator tipping the scales over 200 pounds, this may only apply to me and the two dozen other weirdos who land like I do, so don’t worry if you aren’t in that Venn diagram. But I am seeing a lot of wear in the exposed midsole in the midfoot where I land. Right now it is just roughed up cosmetic wear, but in another 100-200 miles, I can definitely see it being a point of failure as the soft midsole wear away in between the plates of rubber. I don’t anticipate most runners experiencing the same issue, especially heel strikers with the embarrassment of riches in rubber, but it will be a problem in time.


Ride

In a word, pleasant. The Wave Rider 24 hits the Goldilocks of zone of being cushioned, but not too much, with a very smooth ride that feels great as the pace picks up. Most of my time in the Wave Rider has been very easy miles, but the few times I did start to push pace the shoe all but disappeared on my foot, giving me just a little snap at toe-off. While most runners would best utilize the WR24 as a daily trainer, I’m considering keeping it in the rotation for faster runs - it felt that good when the pace got faster than six minutes per mile. There are plenty of “faster” shoes out there, but this one will keep me from feeling too beat up after intervals or fartleks. I’ve been impressed and surprised by how good it feels, and that’s not a usual Mizuno trait.


Conclusions and Recommendations

I’m very impressed by the Wave Rider 24 and everything it brings to the table. What’s more, while it feels like a big jump forward, I don’t think Wave Rider traditionalists will be disappointed. The shoe feels far more cushioned, but didn’t gain a lot of weight in order to do so, and the upper is top notch with a big, but not too big, toebox that most runners will appreciate. If I was training for a race and incorporating speedwork into my training, the Wave Rider 24 would definitely be in the mix on the faster days (going up against plated super shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Pro or New Balance FuelCell TC, which is high praise), but I can see many runners using these as their day-in-day-out trainer. Lots of rubber on the outsole will give you good durability, and at a full price of $130, this shoe feels even more premium than its price tag - which is rare anymore. One of the best values on the market, I hope runners who have grown bored with Mizuno will give them another chance - I’d imagine they won’t regret it.

Jeff’s Score: 9.5 out of 10 

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)



Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Mizuno Wave Sky WaveKnit 3 (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. The big brother to the Wave Rider, the Sky is heavier, thicker, hotter, with much more rubber coverage. The Rider would be the daily trainer for many runners, while the Sky slots in more as a recovery shoe, or a daily trainer for bigger runners. Both feel very premium, a Mizuno staple, but the extra versatility and $30 lower price tag of the Wave Rider makes it the easy suggestion of the two.


ASICS Nimbus Lite (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. The Nimbus Lite came out of nowhere to impress with its comfortable ride and airy upper. It comes in more than an ounce lighter, but on the foot doesn’t feel much less than the Wave Rider. While I appreciate the Nimbus Lite’s plush ride, it doesn’t have nearly the same snap at higher speeds the Wave Rider has. Go Mizuno.


New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. The 880 might be the more direct comparison, but I haven’t reviewed that shoe and the 1080 stack height and weight are nearly the same as the Wave Rider. The NB has a little more plush ride, while the WR feels better at pace. Both uppers are nice and fit the foot well, but the Mizuno’s toebox is a little bigger. Both great shoes, and effectively a coin flip between them, unless budget is a concern, and saving $20 to go with the Wave Rider wouldn’t be a compromise.


Nike Zoom Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. Two of the old standby daily trainers, both shoes got a nice update this year and there are a lot of similarities. Both toeboxes are fantastic, both outsoles have plenty of coverage (and a smooth ride with a good toe off both at easy paces and during faster runs). Even though the Mizuno has a higher forefoot stack, the Nike forefoot feels more cushioned thanks to a Zoom Air unit - though many of the other reviewers didn’t enjoy the airbag’s presence as much as I did. Ultimately, this one comes down to the finer details. The Pegasus is $10 less, just a touch narrower platform, with slightly better rubber. The Wave Rider feels a little more premium in the build/materials, has a slightly better pop when running at speed, and a more consistent cushioning. Which one? Flip a coin.


Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. Another old faithful trainer that got an impressive renewal this year, the Ride 13 costs the same, weighs the same, and has a very similar stack height. Its upper is also a little more breathable, with a slightly better designed outsole for long term durability, just a hair wider and higher toebox, and shockingly (I really can’t believe I’m typing this) a slightly firmer ride than the Mizuno. All that said, I’d favor the Ride by just a hair - but would strongly recommend interested runners do an A/B test of one on each foot.


Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. The one comparison that goes harder on the other side, the S3A comes in lower and lighter than the WR24, but boasts the same “good as a daily trainer, but shines when you want to run fast” characteristic. The Salomon also feels more substantial than the stack height, but it is firmer than the Mizuno. Same price for each, I’d favor the Wave Rider for it’s increased ability as a daily trainer for more runners.


Skechers Performance GOrun 7+ Hyper (RTR Review)

Both fit true-to-size. The Mizuno has the upper advantage by a country mile, but SP’s Hyperburst midsole material is truly incredible. Forefoot cushioning is similar (the Wave Rider has a higher heel and higher heel/toe offset) but the Skechers is nearly two ounces lighter and $5. And yet - for me, I’d go Mizuno. By comparison the Skechers upper feels tight and hot, while runners with narrow feet might not mind that, and in that case, embrace the goodness that is Hyperburst. I’ll be marveling at how good ENERZY is, and enjoying the extra breathability of the upper.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a personal purchase. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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4 comments:

Darrele said...

Great review! While I enjoy all of the testers on RTR, Jeff Beck’s taste in and criteria for running shoes matches most closely with mine. Keep them coming, please!

Buck said...

Hi Jeff,
although heavier, how does the Rider 24 compare to the NB Beacon 3 and NB propel 2 for the longer easier miles?

Jeff said...

Hi Darrele,

Thank you very much! I love hearing that, and thanks for letting Sam know. There's a few more coming soon, and hopefully even more on the horizon.

Hi Buck,

I haven't tried the Beacon 3 or either of the Propels so I can't directly answer your question. I did run in the first Beacon and tested the second one, and while I like the Beacon, it's a stark difference to the Wave Rider 24. The Wave Rider feels like a traditional running shoe, albeit a good one, while the Beacon feels like something different. Maybe it's the simplicity in the midsole/outsole - it just rides a little differently. Not disparaging the shoe, I like it but it never found a good home in my rotation. I'm looking forward to the 3rd iteration with its Fresh Foam X though, it could be what that shoe needs.

Linda said...

Thank for your review
Both fit true-to-size. The one comparison that goes harder on the other side, the S3A comes in lower and lighter than the WR24, but boasts the same “good as a daily trainer, but shines when you want to run fast” characteristic. The Salomon also feels more substantial than the stack height, but it is firmer than the Mizuno. Same price for each, I’d favor the Wave Rider for it’s increased ability as a daily trainer for more runners. amazon coupons