I’ve trained and raced a lot in the Mizuno Wave Precision and Wave Elixir. So, when word got out that both shoes were being replaced by the Wave Sayonara, I was a bit worried.
I have run over a hundred miles in the Sayonara, and I can safely say that Mizuno has not only adequately replaced the Precision and Elixir, but has surpassed them. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Mizuno Wave Sayonara First Impressions
Out of the box, the look of the Sayonara is outstanding. Mizuno has been pushing the envelop design-wise in the last couple of versions of the Elixir, but with the Sayonara, the designers went in a more tasteful direction. Thin strips of printed overlays, however, keep the Sayonara from looking as conservative as the Precision.
Taking it out of the box, I am struck by how incredibly light the Sayonara is. Weighing in just under 8 oz. (7.9 oz. for a men’s size 9), the Sayonara is just over a full ounce and a half lighter than the Precision, and an ounce lighter than the Elixir. Those are just the numbers–it feels even lighter than that. Most of that weight savings comes from a new midsole compound called U4ic, which gives the shoe a more balanced weight distribution between the upper and lower. That balance, I think, keeps the shoe from feeling clunky or bottom heavy.
The Sayonara is a very flexible shoe. But one of the reasons I started mixing the Elixir into my training is that the Precision was too flexible for me. I could take the forefoot of the Precision and practically roll it up, and that flexibility made the Precision less responsive. The Sayonara, like the Elixir and Precision, also has a flexible forefoot.
But the Sayonara has an additional design feature that makes it more responsive than the Precision: a small strip of the outsole on the lateral side of the shoe lacks flex grooves. This is essentially a redesign of the Flex Controllers, which were two banded-lugs in the outsole of shoes, such as, the Elixir 6 and 7.
The intent of the Flex Controllers was to slow down the foot from initial impact, and then spring the foot forward at toe-off, thus creating a smooth and responsive ride. But the Flex Controllers had a very heavy handed design, and as a result, caused comfort issues. The continuous band on the lateral side of the Sayonara acts in the same way as the Flex Controllers: they slow the foot down at impact, and then keep the shoe from overflexing for a responsive toe-off. I think this design is completely successful, and it makes the forefoot flexibility of the Sayonara superior to either the Precision or the Elixir.
Like its predecessor, the Precision, the wave plate on the Sayonara is cut on a bias. This makes the Sayonara flexible side-to-side. Torsional flexibility is important, especially for runners with a neutral gait, for producing a comfortable ride. Last, the heel counter is firm, which should lock the foot in place.
Putting on the shoe, the Sayonara has a very generous toe box. The Precision also had a wider toe box than the Wave Rider, for example. And the Sayonara is even more roomy than the Precision. The midfoot however fits more snuggly, which keeps the foot feeling securely locked in place. The best fitting shoe I ever put on was the Precision 12, and the Sayonara beats that shoe in terms of fit. Fantastic fit! Last, the Sayonara is true to size.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara Sole Unit
The big deal with the Sayonara is the new midsole compound U4ic. It is supposedly 30% lighter than the previous AP+, while retaining all of its physical properties. I can attest to the fact that it is noticeably lighter than AP+. As for behaving like AP+, the only way I can describe the feel of U4ic is to say that it is spongier than AP+. That is not to say it is soft, like Nike’s Cushlon.
The Precision, which has AP+, was one of the softer feeling Mizuno shoes I’ve worn (another reason I started with the Elixir). The Sayonara feels spongey, but nowhere near as soft as the Precision. Firmness-wise, the Sayonara more resembles the Elixir. And after 50 or so miles, I didn’t really feel that sponginess anymore. So, spongey yet responsive is how I would describe U4ic.
For as light as it is, the Sayonara provides plenty of impact protection, especially in the forefoot. I ran everything from tempo workouts and long runs to easy and recovery miles in the Sayonara, and I never felt for a lack of cushion. Keep in mind the Sayonara is a performance trainer, so it is not as cushioned as, say, the Asics Gel Nimbus. But for those who are already used to the Precision and Elixir will find the Sayonara is no less cushioned, even though it is slightly lower to the ground than either shoe.
Part of my initial skepticism with the Sayonara had to do with the idea that it could replace both a neutral and a stability trainer. But the Sayonara possesses a few features that give it the stability a light to moderate overpronator might need, but which, for the runner with a neutral gait, will feel like a solid platform with a smooth transition.
The first two features are that wider toe box and lower profile I already talked about.
The wider toe box gives the foot room to splay, and that room combined with the lower profile create a more stable platform through the gait cycle. Also the outsole on the medial side maintains full contact with the ground. That will support the foot as it pronates and provide a smoother transition from initial contact to toe-off. The Elixir was already fairly minimal in terms of support, but Elixir-users will not find the Sayonara any less stable. In fact, the stability is executed in an even less intrusive way in the Sayonara, which the overpronator might appreciate. For those who don’t need much in terms of support, these features combine to provide a very fluid and quick transition.
The last feature on the Sayonara worth mentioning is the 10 mm heel-to-toe drop (14/24 mm, forefoot and heel, respectively). You won’t notice that slightly lower heel much. It won’t, for example, suddenly make you an efficient mid-foot striker. What it does, however, is give the Sayonara a smoother transition toe-to-heel. It is clear that Mizuno put a lot of thought into making the Sayonara the smoothest, fastest transitioning shoe in the performance trainer category, and the 10 mm heel drop is only the finishing touch.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara Upper
Most of the story is in the design of the sole unit. Some of that has to do with the amount of thought put into the design of the sole unit. But part of it has to do with the fact that Mizuno has been improving the upper materials and design for some time.
The upper carries over the seamless design concept of the Precision 12. Those strips of welded print overlays give the upper some structure. Made of a very thin material, the upper is maximally breathable. Altogether, a very comfortable fit!
Mizuno Wave Sayonara Opinion
The Sayonara is, for me, the shoe of the year. I admit, I was initially apprehensive when it was announced. But after my first run in the shoe, I had to eat crow: the Sayonara surpasses both the Precision and the Elixir.
For those who prefer a lighter, more flexible shoe, the Sayonara is a terrific choice. It could work as an everyday trainer, for those who are used to less cushioning.
Or as a shoe for fast days and hard workouts, for those who still prefer to do the bulk of their training in more cushioned trainers. It could also work as a long distance race shoe, up to marathon distance. Or even as a short distance race shoe, for those who are not racing in flats.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Sayonara to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara Price Comparison
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