Mizuno Wave Rider 20

9.4
9.4 score
[Editors rating (9.2) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (9.4)/10

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Editor rating: 9.2 / 10
User's rating: based on 1 user ratings
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Mizuno Wave Rider 20 Review Facts
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Founded over a century ago, the Japanese sportswear company Mizuno has focused on designing comfortable and functional sports-related accessories. Aside from sports such as golf, tennis, and boxing, they also sell a wide variety of running shoes for men and women. These shoes are very meticulously designed, with popular models being streamlined and improved over the years. One of their most popular lines of running shoes, the Mizuno Wave Rider, has been iterated upon in this way for 20 years, with the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 as their latest offering. The changes made to these shoes were motivated by responses from customers via surveys in an effort to connect with runners and their footwear needs. This is a noble effort, but do the changes implemented in the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 justify making the upgrade for runners?

Pros
  • Extremely light weight
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Multiple colors to choose from
  • Terrific heel-strike absorption
  • Comfortable cushioned sole
Cons
  • Narrow fit
  • Unsuited for harsh terrain
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of Wave Rider 20 is constructed from a combination of hard and soft rubber. Hard carbon-based rubber can be found under the heel for the purpose of increasing support, and softer rubber is found along the side near the forefoot. This design philosophy is intended to provide the best of both worlds, with a greater degree of both comfort and stability. However, the result of this design is a below-average level of both. Despite this, the Mizuno Wave Rider 20's outsoles still have an above average grip, so it isn't all bad.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Mizuno Wave Rider 20 has a midsole made of compression molded foam. This dual-density design is advertised as about 33% more bouncy and lively when running in these shoes, and there certainly is a greater degree of flexibility and responsiveness present. The addition of a plate in the midsole near the heel helps to facilitate a smoother heel strike, all while keeping the shoe at a very light weight. With a subtle 12 mm heel offset, the midfoot is ensured comfort while running in these shoes.
Upper
Upper

Upper

Mizuno designed the upper portion of these shoes to be lightweight and comfortable. This is accomplished with a construction made of mesh, urethane, and synthetic leather. The imitation leather provides a plush sensation, not unlike a nice pillow, while still maintaining a necessary degree of firmness. The mesh enables air to flow freely through the shoe, helping to prevent excessive sweating in the ankle or toe region of the foot. Finally, the urethane fills in the gaps and holds everything together without weighing the shoes down.
Weight
Weight

Weight

What Mizuno has accomplished with their Wave Rider 20 line is truly a marvel of modern design. Many appealing features are built into this shoe, such as comfort, ventilation, shock absorption, and style. However, what truly defines these shoes as modern design marvels is the fact that all of these traits are present in a shoe that remains absurdly lightweight. Over 20 iterations of the Wave Rider line, Mizuno has managed to reduce the weight by over 100 grams, all while adding new features and improving on existing ones.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The primarily mesh composition of the Wave Rider 20's upper portion allows for adequate ventilation around the upper foot, heel, and ankle. If bought at a proper size and tied correctly, runners shouldn't have any issues with excessive sweat or overheating. However, these shoes are a bit narrower than some other popular running shoe models, so extra caution should be placed when determining size. Runners with wider feet may find these shoes less breathable due to a more confined space, which can result in an uncomfortable swampy feeling.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Imitation leather placed on the outside of the shoes' upper portion manages to accomplish both a superior style and a superior level of comfort. In addition, the ventilation from the mesh construction also aids in giving a comfortable sensation to the wearer. On the midsole, an extra heel plate placed in between dual-density molded foam provides an additional level of shock absorption from heel strikes, making foot contact more bearable. The end result of these features is a shoe with greater structure and support but a bit lacking in overall stability due to its lightweight construction.
Style
Style

Style

When it comes to the Wave Rider 20's style, there are some aspects that customers have control over and some aspects that have been decided by Mizuno. Mizuno has the final word on the structure of the shoes: their width, height, weight, and material. Despite having no modifiability in these areas, no changes should be desired, due to the excellent style offered by this exclusive Mizuno design. Where customers have some freedom to choose is in the colors, and there are a truly staggering amount of choices available in this respect. Finding a pair of these shoes with the right style should not be a problem for any runner, male or female.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Durability seems to vary depending on what kind of activity runners engage in with these shoes. For standard, low-to-mid intensity running sessions, these shoes can last for hundreds and hundreds of miles. However, when attempting something a bit more difficult like hiking, mountain running, or running on rough terrain, the Wave Rider 20's can start to wear down much faster. The lightweight construction of these shoes makes them very good at handling track running and treadmill running, but the limits of its construction can be experienced when trying anything more intense.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The only real aspect of protection these shoes offer is a greater level of shock absorption to the heel. This is due to the extra plate in the midsole which makes heel strikes feel more comfortable and can work to ward off potential heel-related running injuries. Other than that, the focus of the Mizuno Wave Rider 20's isn't on protection, but on lightweight functionality. Inclement weather and harsh terrain can cause significant damage to these shoes. Other than that, simply practicing good habits when using and maintaining these shoes should ensure they provide adequate protection during low and mid range cardio.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Customers have remarked that these Mizuno running shoes are pleasantly responsive, which is due to a combination of factors. First, the light weight of the shoes makes it far easier to perform running movements while wearing them, reducing the delay from shoes with extra weight. Second, the tight-fitting nature of these shoes makes them function nearly as extensions of the runner's own feet. Third, the lack of excessive cushioning may decrease the Wave Rider 20's overall durability, but it also increases the intensity of contact with the ground while still working to prevent pain or shock upon impact.
Support
Support

Support

Heel and arch support are ideal with these Mizuno shoes, as several satisfied customers have attested to. Some extra cushion has been placed into the Wave Rider 20's soles, helping to ease the strain on the bottom of customers' feet after miles of running. Some customers with higher arches may have some issues with these shoes, but this can be fixed by replacing the insoles with a pair designed to handle any particular foot discrepancy. Aside from these anomalous cases, the majority of customers should be satisfied with the level of support these shoes offer.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

As lightweight and breathable running shoes, the Mizuno Wave Rider 20's aren't really designed for harsh terrain. They're perfect for running on a track, grass, treadmills, sand, or soft dirt, but harsher terrain can cause problems. Adequate cushioning is present in these shoes' design, preventing excessive strain on your feet when running on harsher terrain, but the issue with running on these surfaces is the possibility of wear and tear. The unfortunate tradeoff of Mizuno's light and airy construction is a lack of protection from excessively harsh elements.
Price
Price

Price

These shoes are on the higher end of the price curve for running shoes, but not without reason. The level of insight and ingenuity put into the design of these shoes justify their higher price tag, setting them apart from the majority of budget picks. When compared to some of the more style-oriented running shoes with high price tags, these may not be as slickly designed in terms of aesthetics, but the sheer number of color choices available ensures that picking up a pair of these Mizuno Wave Rider 20's doesn't have to be a fashion faux pas.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The rubber soles of these running shoes provide excellent traction on a variety of terrains. Reviewers stated that even on some harsh ground or during inclement weather, the Mizuno Wave Runner 20's are able to stick to the ground. It is true that the light weight construction makes these shoes less than ideal for running on such tumultuous surfaces, but that isn't because of the traction whatsoever. On a sturdier pair of shoes, the soles provided with these shoes could handle rain or shine, no question about it.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

These running shoes are flexible when it counts and firm where support is needed. The heel plate installed in the midsole ensures too much flexibility isn't present in the heel of the shoe, but there is still an adequate amount of lee-way in the front and center. Some runners with more sensitive arches may not like how flexible these shoes are, but the use of medical orthotics such as insoles can help mitigate the damage. In addition to a flexible bottom, the upper portion of the shoe is engineered to be manipulated easily, helping to fit a majority of foot sizes.
Stability
Stability

Stability

Don't be fooled by the light weight and low-profile construction of these shoes: they are extraordinarily stable. Both the heel and the front of the Wave Rider 20's are remarkably stable, allowing for full control when jogging or sprinting. Additional stability is gained when wearing the right size and having the laces properly adjusted, but in general, it would be extremely difficult to lose stability with these shoes.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The Mizuno Wave Rider 20 features a heel drop of 12 millimeters. This is a fairly significant difference between midfoot and heel height, and it results in more impact on the heel when running. The result of this is a shoe that is designed to favor runners who incorporate their heel a great deal in their running stride. Part of the increased heel drop is to accommodate the heel plate, which helps reduce pain from repetitive heel impact. Overall, this high heel drop is best suited for a particular kind of runner, with runners who are more comfortable with natural running styles best suited for other brands.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features


  • Large 12mm heel drop

  • Mesh, urethane and synthetic leather upper portion

  • Condensed foam midsole with plastic heel plate

  • Narrow fit

  • Light weight

  • Wide variety of colors for men and women

  • Ideal for low to mid intensity exercise on softer terrain









Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Wave Rider 20 is an excellent update in this popular line of Mizuno running shoes. A considerable amount of thought has gone into the design and construction of these shoes, and they are some of the best at what they aim to be. For runners looking to train for marathons, track & field events, or general cardiovascular health, these shoes will accomplish everything they need while feeling comfortable, light, and stylish. For runners looking to hike, mountain run, or engage in similarly intense activity levels, these shoes wouldn't be the best pick for them.