Article by Jeff Beck
Mizuno Wave Sky Neo ($N/A €200)
The Wave Sky Neo is Mizuno’s new premium daily trainer. Taking some elements from the newly updated Wave Sky Waveknit ¾ and frankly, improving on it, this shoe is big. Very big, and with Mizuno’s recently released midsole material Enerzy as the midsole, it feels even thicker than it is.
All that said, it isn’t out in the US yet, and we have reason to believe it might not be coming to the US at all. I saw some pictures leak a few months ago, and I’ve been constantly combing the internet to find an overseas retailer that would ship them across the pond. Eventually I did, and here we are. The knit upper is reminiscent of Nike’s Epic React but done much better. The fit and finish is top notch, and it should be for the price they’re asking. Is it worth it? That’s a longer answer.
Official: Men’s US9 11.8 ounces / 335g
Sample: Men’s 10.5 12.7 ounces / 361 g
Stack Height: Estimated 30mm/40mm (see midsole section for measurement explanation)
Available Now in EU, unclear for US availability $N/A €200
Midsole captures “soft, but not mushy” better than anything on the market
Upper holds the foot well, and is exceptionally comfortable
One piece sock-like upper has included extra eyelets to combat potential heel slip
Outsole is very durable and grippy, but allows plenty of flex
Craftsmanship is impressive
It’s very heavy
It’s hard to get ahold of a pair (at least in the US)
When you can find a pair, they’re expensive
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
I’ve never been more excited to open a shoe box. After spending months searching for these, and then waiting almost another month for them to arrive, my anticipation was at an all time high. My enthusiasm waned some when I threw them on the scale (you don’t immediately throw all new running shoes on your scale? Of course you do) and saw each one weighed the better part of 13 ounces. Luckily, what a shoe weighs on the kitchen scale and how they feel on foot aren’t always the same thing, so I wasn’t completely crushed when these big boys came in so chunky.
Once I got past the scale shock and I looked closer at the shoe, I was completely impressed with the fit and finish of the Wave Sky Neo. Mizuno doesn’t mess around when it comes to crafting a great shoe, and their top end shoes have always had a premium feel to them. As awkward as the Wave Prophecy was/is, the stitching is comparable to anything Mercedes Benz is putting out there, even from the AMG division. And the Wave Sky Neo is clearly near the top of their food chain.
Fit is spot on true-to-size perfect for me lengthwise, with a slightly tight-but-flexible upper that holds the foot well. Luckily they learned from other one piece uppers (looking at you Nike Epic React/Infinity React) and included an extra eyelet at the top - so if you are experiencing heel slip, you can remedy it quickly. I had zero heel slip issues, but that’s rarely a concern for me.
Soft, supple, and stretchy, the Wave Sky Neo’s upper holds the foot well, but is comfortable enough that you could entertain the thought of running without socks. I wouldn’t recommend it, this shoe is too nice to stink up like that, but just know that you could.
The construction is a knit of various densities, but even the thickest areas don’t generate heat. Also, the knit material has plenty of stretch, so the toebox that seems just adequate when you first put it on, can stretch to incredible proportions.
I could see narrow footed runners having some fitment issues, however. Or at the very least, problems could be possible - no guarantees. The upper fits my foot very well, but if you have very narrow feet there isn’t a mechanism in place to allow you to clamp them down. You could pull the laces very tightly, but then the upper bunches up on top of the foot in an entirely unpleasant manner. But you’d probably have to have cross country ski shaped feet, so most runners shouldn’t worry.
The only part of the upper I’m not enamored with is the heel counter. Mizuno went with an external plastic support cup that isn’t bad, but it feels like overkill and likely contributes to the shoe’s weight issue. I could be wrong, perhaps with a more standard heel we’d only lose a tenth of an ounce or more, but the overbuilt outer support just seems excessive.
The upper portion of the heel, which many refer to as an “Elf Heel” is soft enough it doesn’t create any irritation even when my socks were a little low. Lastly, the heel pull tab has enough slask to allow you to actually use it, unlike so many other pull tabs of late.
This is where the shoe shines, and why I was so excited for this shoe. From what I can tell, the entire midsole is made from Mizuno’s new super foam, Enerzy, and I’m a big fan so far. Enerzy made the Wave Rider 24 a great shoe, instead of a tired daily trainer, and that was only partially used. In the Wave Sky Neo, Mizuno’s European website says it uses two layers of Enerzy Core and merges it with a full length layer of Enerzy foam and Mizuno Foam Wave.
I really have no idea what that all means, other than it is the rare Mizuno running shoe that doesn’t have plastic midsole Wave support running through any of it, and the result is a very well cushioned shoe underneath the foot.
I haven’t been able to find any official stack height numbers, but using digital calipers, I was able to estimate it to be roughly 30mm under the forefoot, and 40mm under the heel. How did I come up with that number? I took the calipers to measure the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3, which has a listed stack of 23mm/33mm, and measured the forefoot where I got 23mm - then applied the same measurement to the Wave Sky Neo. Not completely scientific, but it’s in the ballpark. More important than the number of the page, is how it feels - and it feels fan-****ing-tastic. Yeah. That good.
Whatever the construction breakdown is, Mizuno has created an incredibly cushioned shoe. It doesn’t have quite the stack height of a Hoka Bondi, but in some ways it feels more cushioned. While the Bondi is thicker, it is also much less flexible, and the Wave Sky Neo midsole has plenty of flex, so it doesn’t feel clunky while you are on the run.
Mizuno gave the WSN nearly full coverage using three different pieces of durable rubber. The gaps between rubber are thin, and strategically placed at the midfoot and forefoot to aid in the shoe’s flex. They all use concentric circles of various sizes, and the result is plenty of traction and durability. Though the roughly 40 miles I have logged thus far, I’ve barely been able to take the brand new pattern off of most of the circles. And the circles are thick enough, I have no doubt this is a relatively high mileage shoe.
The one oddity of the outsole is in the heel. There you’ll find a recessed hole that is lined with the exposed midsole - but then it ends with a soft, cloth-like material that resembles the texture of a shoe’s insole. There’s a little bit of give to it if you press in with your finger, but thus far I haven’t seen any wear or even dirt. It’s odd, but doesn’t really factor into anything.
It’s hard to write that a nearly 13 ounce shoe is bouncy and fun to run in without realizing how absurd that sounds, but it’s the truth. The Wave Sky Neo is an incredible shoe to pound out mile after mile, and transfers very little of the wear to your feet. On a few of my runs I picked up the pace briefly, just to see how they felt, and they weren’t bad. They wouldn't be my first pick if I had any speed work on the calendar, or my fifth pick, or probably even my tenth pick, but if you are out for a big mileage cruise and realize that you need to pick it up (say to hit the walk sign of a busy intersection with several minute long cycles), the Wave Sky Neo is just fine in that regard. Then you can slow it down, and enjoy the cruise.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Mizuno’s Wave Sky Neo is an incredible version of what it is - a comfortable trainer that will happily eat up most of your easy weekly mileage. Every element of the shoe exudes comfort, with the upper and the midsole both being the most comfortable upper and midsole I’ve run in this year. But they are expensive, very hard to get, and they weigh quite a bit - and even with all of that baggage, they are one of my favorite shoes I’ve ever worn. If carbon plated shoes didn’t exist, this would likely be on my foot for any run longer than 10 miles. I’m actually disappointed I have other shoes (that are really good) that I need to get mileage in for reviews because I only want to run in this shoe right now.
Mizuno is definitely trending up, and after the Wave Rider 24 and the Wave Sky Neo, I’m willing to give any of their new releases a look - and 18 months ago I don’t think that was the case. And yes, there is a Matrix joke to be made, something about Neo and the One (for me), but I’m not going to make that joke. But, if you have the budget and the patience to secure a pair of one of the most comfortable shoes ever made, you should probably give them a shot.
Score 9.6 out of 10
Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 7 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. My big irk with the Sky 3 was the heat the knit upper generated, but otherwise it was the first step in the right direction for Mizuno. By comparison, the midsole now feels flat and lifeless. If you can justify the cost, the Neo is a massive step up.
Mizuno Wave Rider 24 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. Worn against each other, it’s easy to feel the similarities in the midsole, and Mizuno’s Enerzy is really, really good. The Rider is lighter with much less underfoot, but it’s also quite a bit less in cost too. The forefoot stack looks a little low, but the material overperforms and gives you quite a bit of cushioning. It’s hard to recommend a shoe that costs close to double, but runners looking for supreme comfort should check out the Neo, while the Rider is a great daily trainer that can run speedwork quite well.
Adidas UltraBoost 20 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. The upper on the adidas is almost as comfortable as the Neo, but the midsole of the Mizuno blows it out of the water. No question, go Neo.
Brooks Glycerin 18
Both fit true to size. Brooks’ big daily trainer feels a little dull and streamlined in comparison. No lightweight in its own right, the Neo just comes over the top in a stunning way. Make mine Neo.
BrandBlack Tarantula (RTR Video Review)
Neo fits true to size, Tarantula runs a little big. Brand Black’s first entry as an actual running shoe, the Tarantula uses a midsole material that bears more than a passing resemblance to Skecher’s Hyperburst lined with Vibram rubber. The result is an incredibly feeling and well cushioned shoe that’s incredibly versatile - but I prefer Mizuno’s latest midsole advancements. It’s close, but I favor the Neo.
Hoka One One Bondi 7 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. Hoka still the market cornered on having the biggest road shoe around, but the under foot feel is close. The Hoka midsole is so thick, there isn’t much flexibility, relegating it to a purely recovery day shoe. I’ll take the Mizuno every time.
Nike Infinity React (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. The Nike took some surgery to make it work (I had massive heel slip issues and had to punch extra eyelets to allow for a runner’s loop) and even still has a very narrow midfoot that can be problematic. It’s Flyknit upper is one of the more comfortable knits out there, but up against Mizuno’s upper it feels a little like sandpaper. Not even close, go Neo.
Saucony Triumph 18 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. If you’ve followed this website, you may know I was one of the ringleaders behind the “Triumph 17 is the best shoe of 2019!” charge, and I stand behind it. But how does the 18, which admittedly improved the upper and outsole from the 17, stack up the Neo? Surprisingly good. Saucony’s PWRRUN+ doesn’t have quite the soft but bouncy nature as Mizuno’s Enerzy, but it’s close. And it does weigh less, and cost less (and you can easily find them just about anywhere), so there’s that to consider. Which should you go with? If you are one of those people who are happy getting 80% of the performance for close to half the cost, get the Triumph and don’t think twice about it - it’s a great shoe. But if you want the most comfortable shoe on the market, spend the money, get the Neo.
Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. If you’ve run in the Shift and wanted a softer, but similar ride, that’s the Neo. The Neo feels like it’s got a similar stack height to the Shift, but instead of using PWRRUN, it uses a softer version of PWRRUN+. The Shift feels better at faster speeds, but the Neo feels better for those runs that last more than two hours. I favor the Neo, but the Shift is a great shoe.
Topo UltraFly 3 (RTR Review)
Both fit true to size. The Ultrafly has one of the best uppers out there, and the Neo’s upper might be even better. As much as I like the Ultrafly 3, the Neo’s underfoot protection just blows it away.
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Any chance you will review the Wave Rider Neo?
I hadn't even thought about it, but considering how much I've enjoyed the WR24 and Wave Sky Neo, I'm now really tempted. I'm going to keep an eye out, see if I can source a pair for less than an arm and a leg, and if so - absolutely. Great idea.
Great review Jeff! Can't tell you how many times I've had a pair of these in my cart on Ebay/Pro:Direct Running only to end up balking at the price.ReplyDelete
If you like the way Mizuno is headed, you should try to get your hands on a pair of Wave Shadow 4s. The "foam wave" is up in the forefoot now, and the entire midsole is a relatively thin but delightfully bouncy slab of Enerzy. The upper ain't half bad either, and the shoe clocks in cheaper and lighter than most other new Mizunos.
how does it compare to the Asics Novablast?ReplyDelete
Thank you, and WOW. That shoe looks incredible. I bet even a thin layer of Enerzy holds up well. The previous Shadows have come to the states, so hopefully that one makes the trip too - or else I might have to keep shopping overseas. Thanks for putting that on my radar.
I'll get back to you this evening with one on each foot. By memory the Novablast is softer and less stable, but it's best if I can left/right one each to really get a solid comparison.
Hi Jeff, i really loved your review on the Saucony Freedom ISO wayyyy back., just wanted to ask, has there been any midsoles that remind you of that particular shoe? (Having a feeling of running on an almost super-ball-like surface.) Thanks in advance!ReplyDelete
Okay Anonymous, follow up Novablast comparison. Good call, I completely spaced that I had those kicking around.ReplyDelete
Novablast fits a little big, I'd almost go half size down, and while the upper is comfortable, against the Neo it feels a little rough. The midsole is a little softer, while the Neo cushioning feels more substantial. It's kind of like Boost in that it feels thicker than it is (but it doesn't really feel like Boost). Neo is definitely more stable, Novablast might be just a little more bouncy, they're very close in that regard.
As much as I appreciate the compliment, sadly I haven't ever reviewed any of the Saucony Freedom line. I put about a half mile in the original Freedom, and it didn't work out for me. But for your question, the bounciest shoe? Hmm, that's tough. I might suggest the ASICS Novablast or the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite, but so many runners' gait and needs are so different, it's a subjective answer. Let me poll the other RTR reviewers and see what everyone thinks.
Oh Lord, i have mixed up the names, I was actually to Sam's review 😭 Apologies for that mix-up! Thank you for the reply still! Ahh yes, i have run in the Novablast however i feel the upper is just too roomy and it was a clunky shoe, tbh. The midsole took some mileage to open up but hasnt got to the bounciness that i grew to love in that original Freedom..something tells me the Endorphin line might be the one that comes closest/surpass that original Everrun midsole. You're right though, i believe footstrike and gait affects how "much" gets out of a such "superfoams". Thanks again for your input sir!ReplyDelete
How does the saucony endorphin speed compare with it for cushion, comfort and for long runs. Thanks
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
These are now widely available in Europe, but here they cost whopping 200Eur, which is basically the same as some carbon supershoes (excluding Vaporfly). Considering the Novablast has come down to 100Eur and other competitors floating about the same 100eur (Ultraboost PB are now just 70eur on sale), I don't think you can justify the price of Mizunos, even if they are like 10% better.ReplyDelete
Comparsion with Sauncony Endorphin Speed may be little unfair, but here in EU they cost about the same.
But Iam still glad that Mizuno is back, here it used to be the best mid-tear running shoes company.
No worries at all, Sam is involved in most reviews, so it's an easy mistake to make. FWIW, a little non-scientific internal polling, most RTR reviewers cited the various super shoes as the most bounce (Nike Alphafly/Vaporfly Next, adidas Adios Pro, FuelCell RC), with a few mentions of the Novablast, GlideRide, or Skecher Max Road 4. The MR4 is INCREDIBLY bouncy, and you should check out. All that said - the latest version of the Freedom might just be your answer. It uses Saucony's PWRRUN+, which was a huge step up from EVERRUN in my opinion.
I wouldn't compare the Wave Sky Neo to the Endorphin Speed. One is a daily trainer meant for your easy miles, while the other is almost exclusively for your faster runs and/or races.
I completely hear you, and I'm always cognizant of shoe cost - especially in a case like this where I personally paid the cost. All that said, my primary argument isn't that the Wave Sky Neo is a great value preposition (though it *could* be), but that it might still be worth the money for the upgrade. I normally don't have stability issues, but I really have struggled to make the Novablast a regular trainer for me due to its instability, and I'm not alone in that.
What's more, I think the Neo is much more than 10% better. Granted, it's all subjective. There's not test to objectively prove one shoe is better than another, and even more so, by how much. The fit and comfort of the upper is substantially better than the Novablast, and the midsole is similar, but ultimately much more substantial. I see the value there for me, but I don't have to think very hard to realize that not everyone will see it that way. Perhaps it's like comparing the Volkswagen GTI to the Audi A4 wagon. Ultimately very similar, with a minor performance difference, but a drastic price difference. Most folks would favor the ~$30K VW over the ~$45K Audi, and I'd say they were right. But if you can spring for the higher dollar option, it might be worth it.
And I say that as a guy who drives a GTI. :)
Lastly, while the sticker price of ~$200 might hurt, if you get 400 miles out of the Neo you've spent $.50 per mile. Compare to the $130 Novablast, if you get 400 miles (which is more suspect - my pair with 50 miles has a lot of wear in the exposed midsole) you've spent $.33 per mile. Am I willing to spend an extra $.17 per mile for a much better cushioned shoe with a more comfortable upper? No question. And if the Novablast wears out at 300 miles, now you've spent $.43 per mile, which makes the choice that much easier for me. Doesn't mean that charge didn't sting when it hit the bank account, but the smile every time I put them on balances it out some.
Many thanks for your kind replies!
Ahh i see, i do plan to get my hands on those Mizunos, seeing its been some time since they put out anything w/o a wave plate wedged into its midsole, have a feeling since this took a long time to brew it should be special.
I will look the Skechers too! Have heard good things about it.
Thank you so much for the reply and safe running!
Jeff, I get your point.ReplyDelete
We just now need a big table of the best daily trainers. There are now so much good ones that it is so difficult to pick one.
wave duel neo,sky neo,rider neo are mizuno 2020 awesome shoes!!!ReplyDelete
Absolutely. I started paying attention to Mizuno last year with the Wave Sky 3 - no plastic wave plate. But the plate in the Rider 24/Rider Neo isn't bad, it's like they dialed it in. Definitely check out the Max Road 4 and Max Road 4+. It actively didn't work for me (heavier runner who supinates and lands midfoot - the midsole collapses in a way that causes matching blisters in the first 2-3 miles of literally every run) but I'm the exception. And even though the shoes cause me pain, they are one of the most fun shoes I've ever run in. Definitely check them out.
I'm 100% with you, but I see it as a good thing instead of a bad one. Of the ~several dozen daily trainers on the market right now, nearly all of them are some level of great. It's just a matter of dialing in what exactly you are looking for. For what it's worth, I wrote up a massive trainer comparison a little more than a year ago - 31 trainers in all (https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2019/08/2019-road-running-trainer-comparison.html). The best thing is, virtually all the shoes right now are some level of great. And there's so much subjectivity, it's hard to nail down which one is the One for you. We have a lot of internal conversations amongst the reviewers, and there's a decent amount of "you like *that* shoe *that* much?" just because some folks gravitate to a shoe that others think is...just fine. The best advice I can give you is put roadtrailrun.com into google, followed by a pair of shoes you have and like. Read our review (hopefully we have reviewed it) and see if there's one or two reviewers who have similar opinions to yours. That person or people will likely have a lot of overlap in the future.
Yes they are!
Just my thoughts - two things that probably put me off these is the price and the weight. I read believe in the run review and they highlighted these are major issues. Someone just completed 400 miles in the Novablast so think that is another good option, cheaper and lighter. :)ReplyDelete
After reading the review on the Neo, I am willing to give them a try. The website I found that sells them only lists European sizes. I googled size comparisons but the data is conflicting. I wear a USA 10 1/2. Some references say 43-44, some say 44-45. Do you have any idea about this?ReplyDelete
thanks, Tom, Northern California
I'm with you, the size conversion can be difficult but in this case that's an easy fix since I'm a 10.5. Just looked inside my pair, it shows it is a 44. Enjoy - and I'd love to hear your thoughts after you've logged some miles in them.
The cost and the weight are the two big detractors of the shoe. But the weight is a much bigger deal on the scale than it is on foot during the run, where it really matters. Price is completely subjective - the obvious comparison is the $160 Wave Sky 4, is the Neo worth an extra $40 over the standard Sky? Some runners won't think twice about spending the difference, others balk at any shoe over $100, and I understand both positions. FWIW the inherent instability of the Novablast makes it a much harder recommendation for me. While it is cheaper and lighter, it's also not as good - but to each their own.