Mizuno has a lot of fans in California. That has to do with the population here: a high percentage of Japanese people (Mizuno is from Japan and is thus more recognizable to them) and a lot people who are pretty health-conscious. They like the firmer, more responsive shoe that Mizuno makes enjoyed by many who don’t have foot or leg problems. No doubt, Mizuno makes a speedy-feeling shoe.
The Wave Rider is their flagship neutral shoe and has a diehard fan base. Some people have been buying the model every year for 10+ years (though they’ll often complain about the stitching changes). It’s also sort of the epitome of their design philosophy. A normal weight, relatively stiff, workhorse shoe. This year is more of the same.
Japan is not one for change. Asics is another example of this. Slow, steady changes are their preferred method of updating their shoes. However, for people who don’t have experience with the Rider, here’s what you’re getting: The shoe is very responsive in the forefoot, with a nice feeling in the heel. The ankle is fairly wide, as I felt slippage even with heel-lock lacing. The toebox is mid-volume and very breathable. The transition experience is like something between Brooks and Asics models, which may be due to the high heel-to-toe drop (12mm) and not-quite full-contact outsole. It was like stomping around on my run.
Look, Mizuno is probably my least favorite brand. On the other hand, Mizuno fans are hardcore. If you’re looking for a firmer, traditional trainer that gets the job done, here you go. Also, for what it’s worth, I know an orthopedist at my gym who swears by them, so take that as you will.
Verdict: Not Too Shabby