Mizuno continues to tweak the Wave Rider with the new Wave Rider 23. No changes to the midsole and outsole this year, but the upper continues to trend towards a knit engineered mesh. How do these changes effect the overall feel, fit, and function of the shoe? Let’s find out!
The Wave Rider 23 looks visually different from the 22, but the upper refresh is all that Mizuno claims to have changed with the shoe.
Mizuno has completely overhauled the upper on the 23, and the fit has changes slightly as a result. Having hidden the toecap, moved to a tighter and slightly plusher engineered mesh upper, and replaced the laces with a slimmer lace that feels a little less plush. It’s a pretty standard fit throughout the shoe with a toebox thats a little on the snug side. We have had customers who have needed to go up a half-size from their old 22s due to the slimming down of the toebox. The new engineered-mesh upper moves the Rider into the 21st century in terms of design and creates an appropriately snug fit that has a decent amount of give, but you still need to watch how snug the new toebox is.
The new Wave Rider 23 doesn’t change the midsole or outsole, so in theory the feel of the shoe should be the same or at least very similar to the 22. Early testing in-store is showing us that generally, the 23 and 22 feel quite similar, but the upper change has changed the focal points on the midsole. The Rider continues to be soft – while previous generations of Rider have caused Mizuno to gain the (deserved and somewhat desired) reputation as being firmer and more responsive, within the past few generations Mizuno has created softer and softer midsoles in the Rider. That gradual softening has gotten the Rider away from its original performance/trainer feel a little bit and put it more directly in competition with standard weight neutral trainers such as the Pegasus, Ghost, and Cumulus. The overall feel is, dare I say, pretty soft! For that to be said about any Mizuno is something – much less a Rider! You sit pretty high in the 23 (continuing the feel of the 22) – 32mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot. It seems like Mizuno is deliberately getting away from the Rider’s reputation as a low/responsive daily trainer. The wave plate does keep things somewhat lively, but compared to even a Brooks Ghost, the Rider now feels high and plush.
The rider falls squarely into the standard-weight neutral trainer category. While great for neutral runners, it’s not going to provide any guidance to prevent pronation.
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Mizuno Wave Rider vs Brooks Ghost:
The Mizuno Wave Rider is still softer than the Ghost 12. This recent development is pretty novel given the history of these shoes, but despite feeling a little higher, the Ghost is not quite as plush as the Rider 23. The Ghost is wider overall and has more room in toebox, with knit upper of the allowing for a decent amount of stretchyness to accommodate slightly wide feet. The Rider 23 now has a pretty similar-feeling mesh upper that also provides some flexibility, but the overall size is a little smaller. According to the manufacturers’ specs, the Ghost is 2mm lower in both the forefoot and heel, but the softness of the foam (or something else due to production shoes not fully being built to specs) results in the Wave Rider feeling a little lower. The weight of each shoe is very similar – the Rider is slightly heavier, but you really can’t tell a difference on-foot. Neither provides any significant amount of stability.
Mizuno Wave Rider vs Nike Air Zoom Pegasus:
The Pegasus is lower, and more contoured than the new Wave Rider. It’s also less consistent in its underfoot cushioning. The Pegasus has much more limited room in terms of width and depth in the toebox. With the Rider being more of a standard upper, you have a little more room in the toebox but it’s a a little less stretchy and giving. The Pegasus is lighter than the Rider, and the Wave Rider generally feels like much more shoe. You feel like you’re on top of the Rider vs sitting lower in the Pegasus. The amount of guidance in each shoe is minimal, and both are great options for neutral runners.
Mizuno Wave Rider vs Mizuno Wave Sky
With the redesign of the Sky in the Wave Sky WaveKnit 3, the feel of the Rider and Sky are pretty different. The Sky is a little softer (and heavier runners might feel this more than lighter runners), but generally just feels bigger and more substantial. It’s higher, has much more in the heel (both underfoot and around the heel counter), and the upper is a little bulkier. The Rider is more nimble and flexible, with the Sky providing a big wide substantial base and the Rider feeling sleeker and lower. You feel the added weight of the Sky because of the overall bulk of the shoe. Neither are designed to provide any amount of guidance and the differences in inherent stability are negligible between the two.
Mizuno Wave Rider vs Brooks Glycerin
It would have been a fool’s errand to compare previous versions of the Wave Rider to the Glycerin – with the Rider consistently feeling firmer and more responsive than standard trainers rather than softer, but here we are! Since the Rider has become so soft, it’s a fair comparison between the Wave Rider 23 and the Glycerin 17. Brooks’ flagship cushioned shoe is still softer than the Rider, but not by much. The Glycerin is a little bulkier overall, with the Rider feeling its ounce weight savings on-foot due to the streamlined feel of the Rider. Width is about the same in each, with the Rider having a little more room in the toebox. In the last few versions, the Glycerin has had some inherent stability, allowing runners who have some pronation in one or both feet to use it despite being designed as a neutral shoe – but that inherent stability has been reduced in the Glycerin 16 and 17, so at this point both they’re pretty similar in terms of being neutral.
Mizuno Wave Rider vs ASICS GEL-Nimbus
Like the Glycerin, previous generations of the Nimbus vs Wave Rider comparison would seem pretty pointless with the Nimbus being one of ASICS’ most cushioned shoes and the Rider falling on the firm/performance side of the standard trainer world. In their current versions, though (GEL-Nimbus 21 vs Wave Rider 23), the Rider has actually become softer than the Nimbus. The upper redesign of the Rider has made the two different in terms of upper as well, with the Nimbus still having a traditional upper while the Rider now moving to a knit-like engineered mesh. The Nimbus is much firmer and overall stiffer than the Rider. It’s also heavier, and due to the stiffness it actually feels heavier. The amount of guidance in each shoe is minimal, and both are great options for neutral runners.