The Wave Catalyst came to me as a surprise around November last year. Mizuno has been shaking their stability lineup for a while, but with the demise of the Wave Elixir in 2014 I wasn’t sure we would be seeing a lightweight stability shoe already in 2016.
Well, here comes the Catalyst to show me I still can get surprised every year. This shoe in my opinion sees its most direct competitor in another Japanese shoe: the Asics DS Trainer.
Let’s take a closer look at the shoes, then let’s talk about ride impressions.
Mizuno Wave Catalyst First Impressions
Upon unboxing, the Wave Catalyst feels very traditional. It looks good, with some kind of flame-inspired webbing going on mostly on the lateral side.
I am not a big fan of the particular shade of Red my sample came to me (called “Chinese Red”), but both the other options available (Blue/Yellow and Black/Green) for Men are quite sweet looking.
The shoe looks quite traditional as I said with its stitched Runbird logo and toebox overlay. It feels decently light at 9.5 oz (same weight as the defunct Elixir) and priced at $110 seems like a good deal.
Mizuno Wave Catalyst Upper
Let me get this out of the way: the upper of the Catalyst is nothing to write home about – but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With a typical Mizuno fit, the upper feels nicely wrapped in the mid section of the shoe, leaving good movement for the toes and a secure, locked-down heel. The tongue is soft and wide with nice cushioning.
The mesh used is very breathable but a wise use of overlays allows the upper to keep its shape and position (which is a must in a stability trainer) and it is executed in a quite clever way. On the lateral (external) side the overlays are simply welded on to the upper mesh. But on the medial (internal) side they are actually more congruous pieces of TPU materials and are stitched to the eyelids on one side and go all the way around and under the heel on the other – to lock down the foot securely.
The overlays on the medial/heel side don’t bother the runner as they are placed in a part of the shoe where the mesh is reinforced anyway and the stitching can’t be felt on the foot.
So – what’s my opinion of the upper?
The fit is fantastic, but the upper is also the only part of this shoes with a slight complain for me: the stitching of the Runbird logo on both the lateral and medial side of the shoe can definitely be felt while running sockless.
Although this is something I wouldn’t have minded only a few years ago – nowadays uppers are so perfect that I have started to ditch the socks in my runs (unless weather is cold) and I started noticing when an upper could be more comfortable than it is while I am not wearing socks.
The overlay over the toebox is another area I am not a great fan of, but aside from feeling “funny” while walking it never gave me issues while running so all good there.
Mizuno Wave Catalyst Sole Unit
Here comes my favorite part of these shoes.
Midsole foam material is comprised entirely of Mizuno’s newest foam material: the U4ic (pronounced “euphoric”) which seems to be soft but at the same time quite firm and responsive. The base is much wider under the ball of the foot, adding to the stability of the shoes.
The Wave plate (the plastic piece that is inserted in the midsole from the heel to the ankle part of the shoe) is of the “fan” type, which means it has different heights and shapes throughout its length in order to maximize the cushioning and support properties of the midsole. The Wave is quite flat on the external side of the shoe and it’s instead quite accentuated in the medial (internal) side.
The Wave plate also doubles up as a rigid shank under the ankle, providing the shoe with substantial torsional rigidity, ideal for protecting the foot from unwanted twisting in case of a sub-optimal landing on, for example, a cambered surface.
Mizuno Wave Catalyst Final Impressions
I have been pleasantly surprised by the Wave Catalyst. It is one of those shoes I didn’t know I needed until I actually did.
It has a very firm ride – but not an uncomfortable one. The stability is definitely there and is very dependable.
It’s a comfortable, lightweight and stable shoe. It is actually so comfortable on my feet and I trust it so much that it doubled up as the shoe I use for gym-workouts. I have put quite a few miles on them and I don’t seem to be breaking them down in any significant way.
If you are one of the Elixir orphans, you owe it to yourself to try the Wave Catalyst on. My guess is that you will like them.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Catalyst to test. This did not influence our review of the shoe, written after running more than 50 miles in them.