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Mizuno Wave Rider 20

- published February 2017

79

2017

RATINGS

Fit
6
Comfort
6
Responsiveness
7
Ride Quality
6
Speed
4
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
79

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$120.00
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THE GOOD

  • Improved upper ventilation
  • Comfortable sockliner
  • Nice energy transfer from new heel wedge midsole foam

THE BAD

  • Heavy compared to similar models
  • Ride quality softer than previous versions
  • Rigid rearfoot structure

THE VERDICT

The Mizuno Wave Rider 20 is a durable and relatively lightweight shoe that can easily stand up to high mileage training, with a comfortable upper and great fit to keep the foot secure. Its steep heel-toe drop makes this a model exclusively for heel strikers. The redesigned midsole technology produces a softer overall ride, which increases comfort with long distances but may turn off those who liked the firm ride of previous versions.  

FULL REVIEW

The 20th iteration of Mizuno’s popular lightweight cushioned neutral trainer, with significant updates on top and underfoot. Changes to the Wave Rider 20 include a new Wave plate technology, a new midsole foam, as well as a wider toe box and redesigned upper mesh construction. The shoe maintains the steep 12mm drop that has been a hallmark of this model. 

Fit
Length is true to size, with a medium width forefoot and comfortably tall toe box. The Wave Rider 20 is slightly wider across the forefoot than the prior edition, making for a more accommodating fit. Minimal overlays connect the laces to the platform in the midfoot, but the height and padding of the ankle collars make the shoes feel snug and supportive in the rearfoot.  

Comfort
Ventilation and temperature regulation on the Wave Rider 20 are noticeably improved with the new Triple Zone engineered mesh with larger openings in the toe box and forefoot. This mesh is also very soft and moves smoothly against the foot throughout the gait cycle. A softer heel cup and collar rests comfortably against the foot, and all of the interior seams are taped to prevent rubbing or hotspots.  The generously padded tongue allows you to lace the shoes tightly without feeling pressure across the top of your foot.  

Responsiveness
The midsole is the primary area where Mizuno overhauled the previous version of the Wave Rider. Version 20 uses a new U4ic midsole foam that they claim is 33% more responsive and durable than the previous compound. They also incorporate a firmer foam material called U4icX in a wedge shape at the heel to provide more cushioning and responsiveness on heel strike. Finally, the namesake Wave plate has been redesigned (and is now called Cloudwave) to create quicker energy transfer at toe off. Our testers found that the Wave Rider 20 feels more snappy than similar high-stack, high-drop trainers we’ve used.  

Ride quality
The Cloudwave plate does deliver a softer ride than its predecessor, and the transition from heel to forefoot feels fairly controlled and smooth from impact to toe off.  The flip side of this is if you were a fan of the characteristic firmness in previous editions of the Wave Rider, you may be disappointed with this updated feel.  Extensive outsole rubber maintains solid grip with the asphalt and further improves transition from heel to toe.

Speed
The Wave Rider is one of the heaviest shoes in our test group; it is adequate for light tempo training, but doesn’t promote a hyperfast turnover for road racing or high intensity track work. 

How We Tested It

The shoes in this test covered approximately 80 miles of running in Monterey County CA, predominantly on asphalt and all-weather track surfaces, in wet and dry conditions, with about 20% of mileage on dirt roads.  Longest single run was 24 miles.  

For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other lightweight road running shoe tests, road running shoe tests, trail running shoe tests, and other related running gear tests

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.

About the Author

Donald Buraglio

Donald Buraglio

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

Shop for the Mizuno Wave Rider 20

MSRP
LOW PRICE

$120.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$120.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

RATINGS

Fit
6
Comfort
6
Responsiveness
7
Ride Quality
6
Speed
4
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
79

Specs

  • Heel Height: 31mm
  • Forefoot Height: 19mm
  • Heel Drop: 12mm

Weight

11.4 oz

Weight

Manufacturer's Stated Weight

9.6

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