Nice energy transfer from new heel wedge midsole foam
Heavy compared to similar models
Ride quality softer than previous versions
Rigid rearfoot structure
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.
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.