Thursday, May 18, 2023

Mizuno Wave Rider 27 Multi Tester Review: An Effective, Modern Fine Tune Up of a Classic! 7 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jana Herzgova, and Jeff Beck

Mizuno Wave Rider 27 ($140)


For its 27th edition, the Wave Rider, Mizuno’s workhorse neutral trainer,  gets a well executed upper update and a slight weight drop of 0.3 oz to 9.51 oz / 269g in my US8.5 sample. A very respectable weight indeed as we have a max cushion grade 38.5mm heel with as always a Wave plate (bio based Pebax Renew) leading forward 12mm in drop to the 26.5mm forefoot. Trust me don’t worry about the drop if you do some heel striking as most do as with the deeply decoupled heel and wave plate you are led forward smoothly even at slower paces and there is plenty of cushion upfront. 

There are no called out or noticed changes to the lively protective Enerzy Foan midsole, bio Wave Plate, or outsole although during my A/B run with the Wave Rider 26 on the other foot the forefoot ride was a tiny touch softer in the 27, or so it seemed maybe with the rubber slightly softer. Always focused on the details and quality, as with every Mizuno I can recall, they weigh to the gram the same left and right (a rarity for sure in the industry) and one should expect excellent durability.


Versatile, durable, a great value at $140
Very effective geometry including Wave plate to move the shoe forward off landings, even at slower paces.
Quite dynamic and highly protective midsole foam
Upper 90% recyled materials 


Despite Enerzy foam being relatively light, I hope Mizuno eventually moves to a yet more dynamic, lighter supercritical foam.
Related would like to see the weight sub or close to  9 oz, at 9.5 oz now


Approximate Weight: men's oz 9.75 oz  / 276g (US9)  

  Samples: men’s  9.51 oz  /  269g US8.5 WR 26: 9.81 oz  /  278g US8.5

Stack Height: men’s 38.5mm heel / 26.5mm forefoot, (12mm drop spec) 


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: The upper (90% recycled materials) is an engineered Jacquard mesh with a gusset tongue.  The mesh is soft, very pliable and said to be highly breathable. Soft ,pliable thin Jacquard mesh uppers often can get sloppy and here Mizuno did something very clever. As shown below on my narrower right foot the distance between sides of the shoe is greater than on my wider left in a similar mesh upper. 

As the laces have less stretch and the width of the opening can be controlled, I actually have a more secure midfoot hold for my narrower foot than in the 26 with my wider foot.  It also appears the toe box of the 27 maybe a bit broader but, if it is the case, it is barely felt as such as the midfoot is more secure. All very clever and truly "fine" tuning!

The heel collars are revised with a bit less padding and not as wide an opening. The rear hold is improved with less give side to side and this helps direct the foot forward in line with the direction of travel better. This was quite clearly noticed.

The fit is perfectly true to size with wide sizing also available. 

Jana: Last time, and the only time, I ran in Mizuno Wave Rider was about 10 years ago. I am a big fan of other Mizuno shoes, so I was happy to test the 27th edition of Mizuno’s signature shoe. This is not a shoe that will catch your eye, but it will get the job done. It is a neutral category model, with a stable and comfortable ride, but with a narrow toe box. It has a high - 12mm - heel to toe drop, which I am not used to, so it took me a few runs to get used to it. The heel sits securely locked in place, as well as midfoot - there is no side to side movement. The tongue is moderate in thickness, providing a secure feel and I have not experienced any slippage. 

Jeff: I’ve run in a handful of WRs over the last decade, though mostly sticking with its heftier big brother, the Wave Sky - but one constant with Mizuno is their impressive fit, finish, and attention to detail across all of their shoes. Fitwise it is true-to-size for length, and while it’s not the widest shoe around, the standard D width accommodates my slightly wider than D foot. I wouldn’t mind a slightly wider toebox, but as Sam pointed out, the mesh upper has some stretch to it, so it’s effectively wider than it is.


Sam: The midsole is Mizuno’s Enerzy Foam. No change in foam from the 26 is called out or that I could detect.  It is important to note that with the 26 the Wave Rider got 2mm more midsole stack height to its current 38.5mm heel, 26.5mm forefoot which carries forward here.

The midsole is not overly soft, has a nice mellow rebound and outstanding vibration attenuation. I find it a near ideal daily training foam as it is highly protective, more than adequately energetic and decently soft without being mushy. 

The Wave Rider includes Mizuno’s Wave technology, greenish yellow about 2/3 way to the outsole in the pictures. Think of this bio based plastic (bio based Pebax Renew)heel to midfoot plate as a combination of slightly stabilizing and rear of the shoe focused directed propulsion. 

The plate is a bit more prominent on the medial side (photo above) but in no way is there is stability shoe feel, yet there is touch of guidance stability that I welcome as a neutral runner.  

In combination with the deep decoupling groove and relatively narrow rear landing (unlike many 2023 shoes such as the latest Nimbus), I never feel, no matter the pace, that the heel is “in the way”or blocky. 

At the front we have nice flexibility.  Recall we have a 12mm drop but quite frankly the shoe for me, at least a slower paces, feels more like 8-10mm as things move forward so smoothly. I tend to heel strike at slower paces and all was good. I don’t think mid or forefoot strikers have to worry much as we have a very decent 26.5mm of stack upfront and a mostly full coverage outsole. Unlike say the highly front compressing ON Cloudsurfer, the forefoot does not feel thin or bottomed out or overly firm as say the Pegasus tends to feel. 

Jana: As Sam mentioned above, there is plenty of cushioning, with added stiffness to the rear foot. It is definitely a great daily trainer, for easier/recovery miles or longer efforts.

Jeff: While some brands are getting softer and softer, Mizuno has always been on the firm side of things. Their Enerzy midsole brings a “soft enough” performance that lighter weight runners will probably find nice and soft, while bigger runners like myself will find it just enough. It might be a little on the shallow end for me for a day-in-day-out level of trainer, but again, I’m a bigger runner who gravitates toward softer shoes with higher stacks for daily training.


Plenty of durable rubber which is well arrayed with firmer rubber at the rear and softer rubber up front. And as previously said, all well decoupled for smooth transitions from heel landings through toe off.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: The Wave Rider 27 has classic high drop flexible forefoot daily training ride with totally modern materials to increase upper comfort and give the underfoot a smooth flow with plenty of moderately lively cushion. The geometry is superb for basic every day running at slow to moderate paces with a smooth stable flow from landing to toe offs with the Wave plate adding some in the line of travel guidance to this neutral shoe

This is a ride you can truly rely on for just about any daily training run and recovery run although for tempo and faster Mizuno has other options such as the Wave Rebellion and radical Wave Rebellion Pro.

It is not easy to modernize the classics such as the Wave Rider without either potentially  alienating loyal runners with “radical changes” or essentially changing the upper and calling it a day, looking at you Pegasus.  Here Mizuno tweaked the fit of the excellent 26, a big update, with a new upper that is softer, more breathable, more comfortable and more secure and got a slight weight reduction bonus. 

Durability should be excellent and at $140 it is an excellent value.  Need a workhorse daily trainer ? Are a beginner runner looking for a versatile stable trainer with a touch of lively fun? About to run your first marathon and want a comfortable stable ride all the way? And as I ran today what a great option for a downhill marathon.

Jana:  The Wave Rider is responsive, highly protective, and, I think, also an excellent choice for runners with knee issues due to its high and comfortable cushioning. If you prefer a pillow-like soft training shoe, this may not be the best option. It is on a firm side, but provides a very comfortable ride. It is also an excellent choice for a novice runner.

Jeff: Sam is 100% right - this is a modern update of a classic running shoe. A decade ago every well cushioned shoe felt like this, now most options are going much softer and more cushioned. But for runners who don’t want to be that disconnected from the ground, the Wave Rider is still here for you.


Mizuno Wave Inspire 19 (RTR Review)

Jeff: These two shoes are clearly a matched set, with the Inspire having extra stability elements while the Wave Rider is the neutral version. Similar build, stack height, uppers, midsole material, they’re yin/yang to each other. I could see runners who need stability having both in their lineup, since the Wave Rider is inherently a very stable shoe.

Saucony Ride 16  (RTR Review) is a bit firmer, lighter and more performance oriented in fit and ride (Sam)

Jeff: Not often you get to say this, but the Mizuno is softer underfoot with better cushioning and much improved upper.

ASICS GEL Cumulus 25 (RTR Review) is softer, broader in platform and less directed in flow while having a yet more comfort oriented upper that is not quite as locked down (Sam)

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 (RTR Review) also a neutral with a touch of stability gets a massive increase in stack height and broader rear platform. I found them considerably harder to transition off the heel than the Wave Rider and stiffer up front. The Mizuno provides plenty of cushion and is more traditional in ride but with modern foam and a bit more secure upper than the super plush Nimbus upper (Sam)

Jeff: Near opposite ends of the squish spectrum, the Nimbus is soft enough that it’s best used as an exclusive easy day shoe, while the Wave Rider can be a daily trainer to even speed work for some of us slow runners. I appreciate the versatility of the Mizuno, and how soft the ASICS is underfoot.

Sam: I have not run the Pegasus 40 (RTR Review)  as of yet but based on our review it is a nice upper update with underfoot the same as previous and due for a change firmer less pleasing ride. Both have notably good outsoles with the Nike’s even light trails capable.

Brooks Ghost 15 (RTR Review)

Sam: With a 35 mm heel / 23 mm forefoot, 12 mm drop we have 3mm less cushion at the about the same weight. While the heel is about as well cushioned but not as smoothly decoupled with less structure at the rear (no plate in the Ghost), the forefoot feels thinner and softer than the Wave Rider 27's. The Ghost's DNA Loft v2 foam is not quite as lively as Enerzy but close. Fit is similar with the identically priced Wave Rider's upper a bit more polished and secure. A bit more easy going but less directed the Ghost is one of the few (other than the Rider) 12mm drop shoes available. Loyal Ghost fans seeking a bit more support and a bit more directed ride should consider the Rider.

ON Cloudsurfer 2023 (RTR Review

Sam: The new Surfer has a midsole foam of about the same firmness but.. has CloudPhase elements which compress in the line of travel for a very smooth flow. Unlike prior ON there is no Speedboard, the often prescriptive full length plate with the Wave plate in the 27 more effective and useful to direct the foot to the flexible toe off.  Upfront I found the ON elements to compress too much leading to a thinner, and tiring after 6 miles or so if more dynamic experience than the Wave Rider but..a far less practical one for all around daily training than the Mizuno. Both have superb uppers, among the best in the industry. I would give a slight edge to the ON for its equal security and lighter feel on the foot overall.

The Wave Rider 27 is available now at our partners



Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Tester Profiles

Jana Herzgova took up running in 2016, after a back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, starting with shorter ultra distance races she quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner. She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climates, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes.RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Europe only: use RTR code RTR5ALL for 5% off all products, even sale products 


Men's and Women's SHOP HERE
  • 10% Savings Every Day*  5% Back in Rewards Cash
  • Test Run Shoes 90 Days Worry Free
  • Crazy Fast, FREE Shipping

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's and Women's SHOP HERE


Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE 
Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

No comments: