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Road Running Shoes • September 16, 2020

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Performance Review

MIZUNO WAVE RIDER 24 - feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.6 oz. (272 g) for a US M9 / 8.2 oz. (232.5 g) for a US W8
  • All-new Enerzy midsole is a hit
  • Engineered mesh upper is flexible and form-fitting
  • These aren’t your dad’s dad runners

AUSTIN: Back in July, the Believe in the Run IG page dropped a pic of the Mizuno Enerzy, a $300 concept shoe that highlighted the brand’s new midsole foam. Enerzy, as Mizuno dubs it, is 293% (?) softer than conventional soles and provides 56% more energy return (eyes on you Vaporfly NEXT%). That concept Enerzy shoe wasn’t meant to be a running shoe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few intrigued runners shelled out $300 for a pair (instead of the cheaper Vaporfly NEXT%). So what’s the deal with Enerzy? It’s The Enerzy foam is being incorporated into upcoming Mizuno models, including the popular Wave Rider 24.

TAYLOR: “Bring in the lazer! Turn the Enerzy up to 1,000.” I’m not sure that this is the exact quote from which Mizuno’s new foam compound was named, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Evil played a part. I mean, just look at the Enerzy concept shoe that Austin mentioned. The pre-teen Cabbage Patch Kid look is totally something that he and Mini-Me would sport with their metallic sweatsuits.

In any case, the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is the first actual running shoe where this Enerzy foam is utilized. It’s a lighter, softer, and more responsive variation of the original U4ic midsole. Though not much else has changed from the previous version of the Wave Rider, the new focus on the Enerzy foam is enough to garner the attention of those both familiar and foreign to Mizuno running shoes.

The Good

AUSTIN: I haven’t run in the Wave Rider for years, so the Rider 24 feels like a fresh start. Enerzy, a “more responsive version of U4ic,” is a pillow for sure. So, to recap, the Wave Rider 24 midsole is U4ic and Enerzy (a different iteration of U4ic). Moments after slipping my feet into the Wave Rider 24, I loved the cushioned feel. From front to back, the shoe delivers softness. I tried the 23 sometime last year, and this feels like a radically-adjusted Sleep Number bed softness setting. Stones to clouds, friends.

The engineered mesh upper, along with minimal overlays, drastically enhances comfort. The Wave Rider 24 gained a few tenths of an ounce but still managed to stay under 10 ounces (9.6) in a US men’s 9. Tongue padding and heel collar padding are robust, adding to that suave attitude. As for the ride, it’s smooth. I’m not sure it’s nearly 300% softer than Brooks’ DNA FLASH or Saucony’s PWRRUN, but landings are just nice. The colorways look great too (I demoed the Castlerock Phantom).

TAYLOR: I’m a dad. Being a dad is what I am most proud of. But I don’t want to look like a dad, you know what I mean? Many shoe slingers have been putting out plain grey colorways this year and have flopped pretty hard, in my opinion. The Wave Rider 24 is one of the exceptions. All of the colorway options are pretty sweet, but the Castlerock Phantom (smoky grey with fiery accents on the midsole) colorway that I received is my favorite. Kudos, Mizuno!

Performance-wise, the Wave Rider maintains most everything that made it good in the past. For starters, they have a very comfortable fit. The engineered mesh is flexible and breathable but holds form enough to keep your feet securely fastened. It’s the same mesh as in the 23. If it ain’t broke, don’t switch to knit uppers, amiright? 

There were a couple of subtle changes up top to make this a more accommodating shoe. A softer and more plump heel-collar was added to enhance comfort. I never noticed the heel being a problem in past iterations, but I do notice a better locked-in fit this year. Also, the toebox was ever-so-slightly widened, making it less shark-nosed, which I appreciated most when I picked up the pace. 

Speaking of which, pushing up the RPMs won’t be too much of a problem for the Wave Rider 24. Though it definitely falls in the daily-trainer category, it is decently versatile because of its smoother and more responsive ride. 

Of course, there is a Pebax Wave Plate (as does every “wave” shoe). It offers mild stability that is most noticeable when heel striking. The heel is a little more trimmed up and tapered, bearing a slight resemblance to the Pegasus 37. It does give a speedier look and feel for sure. 

Mizuno’s Wave Plate offers more than stability. It provides good feedback through each stride– a little bit of pep in each step. Responsiveness is surely enhanced by the new Enerzy Foam. It’s only found in the heel wedge under the Pebax plate, but it’s enough to provide a smooth transition through each step.

Deeper and strategically-placed flex grooves also come up as a clutch player to enhance the Wave Rider’s flow. They help with the ride and cut some weight too (10.9 oz for a Men’s 10.5). 

The rest of the midsole is composed of Mizuno’s U4ic foam. Like all Mizuno shoes I have worn, the midsole has been the most pleasing component. It has a medium softness and provides a little bit of responsiveness and protection for the pavement pounding.

If you choose to leave the pavement, that’s fine too. The X10 carbon-infused rubber outsole is grippy and durable… maybe even overkill. Either way, it works well on wet pavement, gravel path, and even some grassy sections.

Shop Wave Rider 24 – Men Shop Wave Rider 24 – Women Wave Rider 24

The Bad

AUSTIN: Two issues emerged after multiple runs in the Wave Rider 24. The first is long laces. It seems like I had a long run (see what I did there?) of new kicks to review that included moderate lace lengths. The Rider is now being lumped into the category of shoes with laces that hang too far off the side and require some creative maneuvering to secure the slack.

Second, do runners care much about shoe drop anymore? Is it a conversation that’s run its course in the past 3-5 years, or do people still put a lot of emphasis on drop in the purchasing process? I bring this up as the Wave Rider 24 showcases a 12-millimeter drop (32 mm heel to 20 mm in the forefoot). Frankly, that’s high. In fact, the Rider has the same stack specs as the Brooks Ghost 13. I like running in both brands, but that heel makes it hard for me to run as efficiently as I should, based on my preferred forward motion path. Every run I’m fighting a heel landing at some point. This gripe is probably just construction preference on my part as I run better with shoes that include an 8 mm drop or less. Anything higher creates frustration.

TAYLOR: Even though the Wave Rider maintains a lot of its former goodness, its setbacks are still prevalent.

An off-kilter ride is its greatest downfall. Yes, the forefoot has a nice feel. Yes, the Wave Plate offers pop. And yes, the new Enerzy heel wedge gives a more relaxed and responsive ride, but the formula is still off. It’s just… wonky.

No doubt the ride feels more balanced and all-around softer than previous models. For me, the transition from initial foot-strike to toe-off is not a smooth one in terms of what you feel. A 12 mm drop (32-20 mm heel-to-toe) does not help the cause either.

There’s a certain harshness that I felt post-run. After every run I put in the Wave Rider 24, my arches would be sore or tight, and I haven’t had issues with that for a few years. I also felt that there was more pressure put on the front muscle chains of my legs as compared to most other road shoes. Maybe that stems from the fact that I typically wear zero to 6 mm drop. But even easy runs left me feeling a little sore in parts of my quads and hips flexors. 

Being a midfoot striker, this shoe really didn’t have a chance to shine. On one run, I purposefully struck on my heel. Low-and-behold the ride felt better, stability increased from the Wave Plate, and I felt less strain on muscles after. So, it confirmed that this shoe may be best fit for heel-strikers.

Shop Wave Rider 24 – Men Shop Wave Rider 24 – Women Wave Rider 24

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Conclusion

AUSTIN: All things considered, the Wave Rider 24 is a solid update. The retooled outsole, airy upper, and Enerzy foam are clearly a win for Mizuno. I’m glad to see they are tinkering with midsole compounds again, and I do hope that Enerzy is one that runners embrace. It’s a soft daily trainer for numerous runs, though I’d look for something else for speed days.

TAYLOR: As Mizuno’s most popular shoe, the Wave Rider 24 has a few things going for it. It’s a more responsive and versatile daily trainer thanks to the new Enerzy foam in the heel and flex grooves. I wouldn’t say that it is enough to save it from the grips of an inconsistent ride.

You can pick up the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 at Running Warehouse for $129.95 (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Wave Rider 24 – Men Shop Wave Rider 24 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. L.F. says:

    This is interesting because I am a heel striker and find this shoe forces me to make a mid strike landing. With only 5 short 3 mile daily runs so far, the first few days produced soreness in the bottoms of my feet (think planar fascia) while the latter few days have produced soreness in my legs & knees. I wonder if it’s the drop you mentioned. I have also noticed that the shoe sole feels much harder and has less flexibility. Additionally, I have narrow heels and find this shoe pinches my heels from run one, causing friction & blisters. I loved the 21 & 22 as the shoe truly felt like a neutral shoe for me. The 24 feels like a corrective shoe changing my strike. I do really like the upper mesh however; it feels like a mild compression sock holding my foot.

    1. paul b says:

      I am a heel striker as well, and it two a few weeks adjusting to this shoe but now i really enjoy running in it. Definitely not a shoe meant for mid foot strikers, but as a heel striker the transition from heal to toe off is nice for me.

      L. F. i found the shoe runs about a half size big, but it hasn’t caused issues for me. I am also going to get the waveknit version which i hear runs more true to size, and seems to be preferred by some over the mesh.

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