The Mizuno Wave Rider 20 is the 20th iteration of the most popular shoe on the Mizuno neutral line. It is a shoe that you’ll find frequently at local races and even just on the streets as you watch your neighbors go on runs.
There is a reason behind this, as it hits the sweet spot for Mizuno technologies and does so at a competitive price. Not heavy, or clunky, like some of the other offering from the brand, this shoe truly shines when you put them on.
Mizuno Wave Rider 20 General Info
The Mizuno Wave Rider is the GTS (Go-To Shoe) for the Mizuno neutral line. At $120 for retail price, these shoes are competitive with almost every other offering in the same classification.
Although not the highest level of technology for the brand, this shoe is easily the line that is easiest to find on the streets and on the feet of runners everywhere.
At this price point, the Riders compete with Brooks Ghosts, ASICS Cumulus, Nike Pegasus or Saucony Ride. Having run in this year’s Ghosts and Cumulus, I would say that these shoes are the equal or better each of them.
Frankly, it would be a runoff between the Ghosts and the Riders and it would depend on what type of run I would want to do.
The Riders were better at the shorter and faster, where the Ghosts offered a little more cushion for the longer distance. Both were phenomenal shoes.
Upon receiving the Riders, I was impressed by the design of the shoe — especially the detailed reflective material that included the number 20 that would light up on night or early morning runs.
When I put them on for the wear all day test, they were a dream. It almost felt like there was nothing there. And on the first run — a 10k with 4M at tempo — the responded very well and were pleasant the entire time.
Mizuno Wave Rider 20 Sole Unit
The sole unit of this shoe advertises Cloud Wave Technology in an updated neutral wave plate.
The company claims the new plate gives the shoe a 9% softer cushion than last year’s model while the new midsole claims to be 33% more lively ride than the previous model.
Having not run in the Rider 19s, I cannot personally attest to this claim. However, this update showed enough cushion and responsiveness that I felt comfortable running in them for half marathon distances without a second thought.
The actual sole of the unit offers decent grip. I never had a problem, even in the runs with semi-wet concrete.
However, during my testing, we did not get a real rainfall or any early snow, and I don’t know how they would handle those conditions.
I don’t feel confident in thinking that they would handle ice or snow well. The tread on the sole just lacks a little extra grip for those conditions.
When compared to the sole units of other offerings at the same price point, I would say these stack up as equal or better than most.
The only shoe in this category that I have tested this year that provides more would be the Brooks Ghost 9. The Riders are a little more firm, and for a runner my size wouldn’t be my first choice for a marathon distance.
However, this firmness leads to great responsiveness and quick turnover which was wonderful for speed, tempo and race conditions from 1 mile up to half marathon distance.
Mizuno Wave Rider 20 Upper Info
The upper has also been redesigned with a new triple mesh design that allows for great breathability without being porous with water — mainly from people watering their lawns.
This upper is not water proof and may be breathable to a fault during the winter months — time will only tell on that.
When it came to the design of the upper, it is superb. The heel is not too wide or narrow, then through the arch the shoe it narrows and secures the foot.
Finally in the toe box, the shoe widens out — not like an Altra or Skecher, but still fairly wide — and lets your toes feel comfortable and roomy.
Mizuno Wave Rider 20 Conclusions
Honestly, before reviewing these shoes I was hesitant to take them on. Throughout the year I have reviewed almost everything Mizuno has offered for the neutral runner — Hitogami, Wave Sayonara, Wave Creation, Wave Prophecy — and I’ve seen their full line from racer all the way to $225 top cushion trainer.
And, with the exception of the Sayonara, I just haven’t been very impressed. I have noticed firm — or outright hard — cushioning in their plush offerings and heavy shoes in which to try and run.
With that being said, I am so happy that I relented and took these shoes on. The Riders have redeemed Mizuno in my eyes. They are superbly made, and have a real purpose to them.
They do not feel clunky or heavy on my feet like some of the other offerings. Instead, they were light and responsive. Even allowing me to log my fastest ever 10k, and feel like I had gas left in the tank.
I took these shoes as far as 14 miles — in post marathon running I didn’t want to go farther than that — and they held up well.
However, towards the end they were a little too firm for my liking and I’d prefer to do that distance in a shoe like the Brooks Ghost 9 or the Under Armour Charged Bandit 2.
This may be to the fact that I am a larger runner, and a more svelte runner may not find this to be an issue as they won’t break down the cushioning as quickly.
Where these shoes truly shined was in tempo runs. The mix of distance and speed was just what these shoes wanted to do, and they responded incredibly well to it.
They were truly a joy in which to run, and I plan to continue using them until they can go no further. At the time of writing this review, I have put 92 miles on them, and they still look and feel new, I’m sure they will take many more miles before they quit.
Even if you’re not a Mizuno person — like me — you may want to take a look at the Wave Rider 20. These shoes are a pleasant surprise and one that I think will keep paying off for a long time.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Rider 20 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.