The Best Mizuno Running Shoes
Mizuno's Wave Technology has been around for some time but more recently, they have been adding their wave tech in to new foams giving the shoes a fresher feel. We're fans of Mizuno; they make really good shoes with little if any weak shoes in the entire range. Find out what Mizuno shoes made our best shoes of 2020 list here.
Here are our reviews of the Best Mizuno Running Shoes of 2020.
BEST CUSHIONED SHOE - Mizuno Wave Skyrise
This smooth riding long-distance cruiser is well worth considering. It is slightly softer that the Wave Rider and a brand new model from the brand for 2020. The Wave Skyrise promises to make a big impact
- Soft, plush cushioning
- Suits broad feet
- It is broader than most shoes - that may not be a negative for you though
BEST FOR MARATHON - Mizuno Wave Sky 3
Although this shoe has not changed very much at all, it is non the worse for it. It remains one of the very best cushioned shoes on the market with an exciting ride. It is the most cushioned shoe in the Mizuno range.
- Exceptional levels of cushioning
- Great upper
- Long lasting comfort
BEST FOR LONG DISTANCE - Mizuno Wave Horizon 4
One of the very best motion control shoes on the market. Mizuno's statement control shoe, it comes at a price but we think it is worth it
- High level of cushioning and support
- Great engineered mesh upper fit
BEST FOR STABILITY - Mizuno Wave Inspire 16
The Wave Inspire is poplar for a good reason. It offers a firm ride but we think that will suit a lot of people requiring motion control in a shoe. We also think it is good choice also for the runner who might be slightly bigger and heavier than average
- Updates to this familiar high performer
- Good levels of cushioning and support
BEST FOR LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING - Mizuno Wave Rider 23
The latest version of the Wave Rider keeps true to the heritage that makes it a versatile everyday shoe, happy at any pace and suitable for a wide range of runners. As always, there is masses of tech in the Wave Rider - one of our favourites.
- Familiar feel makes it an instant hit
- Light and responsive
- Stable cushioning
Low depth upper, slightly slim fitting
MIZUNO TECH TALK
It is strange to think that a company so old as Mizuno, only really began making running shoes in the 1970’s and it was a long time after that that they really made a breakthrough to the mainstream running scene as we know it today.
The company was started in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno. In true Japanese tradition, they began with a big mission statement - to contribute to society through the advancement of sports and the promotion of better sporting life. We love the sound of that.
Rihachi Mizuno loved baseball, a sport that still enjoys a solid following in Japan today, so he left his job as a kimono shop assistant to open his own baseball sporting goods store. He offered equipment along with custom uniforms. Mizuno then moved in to manufacturing baseball bats which were so good they became the gold standard bats of the time.
Mizuno really began to grow during the 1920’s. After supporting the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, Mizuno started to venture into new sports and in 1927, launched his first ski equipment range. In 1928, it launched its first running spikes, presumably for the Olympic Games in Amsterdam that year. 1933 saw the launch of their first golf range, a sport they’ve been active in since and make amazing products for to this day.
For a sports brand, you would think that the manufacture of gliders (as in aircraft!) would be more than a little bit weird but their ‘airborne’ manufacturing began in 1936.
Japan entered WWII in September 1940, but Mizuno kept on manufacturing sports goods launching a tennis range in 1943 but the manufacturing was about to cease for a while. The Japanese government had asked Mizuno to manufacture military ordnance for them and so the production of gliders continued!
After the war, Japan was desperate to get back on its feet and Mizuno answered the call by manufacturing household goods such as furniture, but before long, Mizuno were making baseball bats and gloves again.
Opportunities opened up for Mizuno in the early 1960’s. They were able to support the Olympic Games when it came to Tokyo in 1964 and again when the Winter Olympics came to Sapporo in ’72.
For the summer of ’72, Mizuno launch their M-Line. From the images and adverts, the spikes look competitive but by this stage, other brands were already making shoes that were way more advanced such as the Nike Cortez.
The 70’s was a great decade for running in the US. The running boom started in the early 70’s new brands were formed; old brands began taking running products seriously. The product offering and technology within the shoes was gaining rapid momentum. But Mizuno were not at the (running) races…
At the time, Mizuno were still known as one of the best manufacturers of baseball products available, but by 1980 it became clear that it needed to branch out if it were to grow. It needed rejuvenate itself and give itself an image that would have wider appeal to the masses. The Japanese economy was slow and the company needed some impetus, so in 1982, the company launched a division in the USA. They hired Jack Curran, an industry veteran with a background in bowling and golf. Working from home with one other employee, it wasn’t long before Mizuno had launched on to the sports scene in the US with their golf technology driving the brand awareness. But we had to wait until 1983 until we saw a range of running shoes: the Runbird Line.
Runbird was the name given to the Mizuno logo we know today. Up until that point, their shoes carried the ‘M’ logo on the side, but the Runbird logo was designed and launched in 1982 and featured on the Runbird running line the following year.
While the shoes weren’t exactly ground-breaking (basic EVA midsole with a rubber outsole and mesh upper), it was a start and the other brands were not a mile ahead. They started a process of development that would ultimately lead to the Wave technology we know of today.
In 1985, Mizuno launched their Magical Cloth Midsole technology; a strange name for a foam. The tech was solid though and the foam increased the stability of shoes while offering great cushioning. The designer, Takaya Kimura, was aware of its impact versus the competition stating, “It was the middle of the first function war, where everyone was competing by using new materials to increase the cushioning. With this product, Mizuno also leaped into the material competition among shoemakers.”
In 1986, Mizuno incorporated Sorbothane into their shoes which was a highly absorbent material designed to protect against impact. Sorbothane was created by British scientist, Dr Hiles, and in those days, anyone running would be well aware of the material. If we had calf or Achilles injuries (very common back then), we would put the heel pads in our shoes under the insole to raise the heel up helping to shorten the calf and Achilles and to take some of the impact, but I digress!
In 1987, Masato Mizuno, the grandson of Rihachi Mizuno, became head of Mizuno. He had fresh ideas and was a determined marketeer. He told Sports Illustrated magazine, "We want to be able to meet every sports need,". By then, Mizuno already controlled 30% of the Japanese baseball and golf markets but this was just the start of something new. An aggressive sports marketing focus led to some significant signings in a number of sports. Household names such as American Football stars, John Elway and Joe Montana signed to the brand, but it was the signings of Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) who really rubber-stamped Mizuno’s performance credentials on the world of running and track & field.
Flo-Jo had signed a million-dollar shoe contract with the brand just before the Seoul Olympics in 1988 – that is a figure almost unheard of, even by today’s standards. It probably reflects the global interest in Track & Field back then and we have waited until Usain Bolt to see another deal like it. Bolt was reported to be paid $600,000 a year by Puma when he won the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but the fee kept on rising until the reported $10m a year he was paid by them post Rio Olympics in 2016.
The product kept evolving. In 1989 Transpower was released; a new material that combined Sorbothane with a material originally used in golf balls called H2 to transform heel impact to responsive power. The foam was originally found in the heel only but was extended to the midfoot and Transtab was born.
On August 25th 1991, Carl Lewis ran a world record of 9.86 in Tokyo and Mizuno had the fastest human on the planet wearing their spikes. The following year, the Olympic Games came to Barcelona and Mizuno had 12 gold medallists, and 30 silver and bronze medallists, more than any other manufacturer. An amazing achievement when you think of the ‘big boys’ in the sport.
Give us a Wave!
The training shoes had evolved a lot over the previous decade, but they had also grown in production costs, bulk and weight. A new way of thinking was required. Cue the Mizuno Wave Rider.
The infamous Wave technology was launched in 1997. Designer Tuan Le, stated that it took them forever to work it out but once they had figured it out, they thought the answer was so simple! He states, “This Wave technology was the opposite of what Nike Air was. Nike Air was a big air bag that cushioned the impact of running but the Wave Plate stretches out upon impact and propels the runner forward as it returns to its regular waved shape.”
The Wave plate was a really new technology for the running market. The wave shaped plate sits within the foam spreading impact forces throughout the midsole and rebounding back to its original shape. Combined with Mizuno’s build quality, the shoes offered great responsive cushioning in a supportive structure. They felt different from the norm of the day and still do.
Evolutions of the technology have come to market over the years and the plate is used in different ways. In 2007, the Infinity Wave was released. Two plates sit parallel to each other with soft, cushioning pillars in between. This increases durability ‘by absorbing and dispersing the impact at foot strike’. The tech is good and features in the latest Wave Prophecy 9 but the you’ll need deep pockets.
In 2016, the shape of the wave in the Wave Rider changed slightly. Now concave throughout, the result was a softer riding shoe whilst maintaining stability.
Mizuno have a lot of technologies, perhaps too many. This includes 4 different types of Wave plates:
PARALLEL WAVE - For Neutral Runners
The Parallel Wave offers the perfect amount of cushion and energy dispersion, allowing the foot to move in its natural motion.
- Perfect for neutral‑foot types who don’t need as much support.
- Disperses the impact forces evenly throughout the midsole and keeps the foot centered on the shoe’s platform.
FAN WAVE - For Support
Found in our support shoes, the Fan Wave provides dynamic support in areas where overpronators need it by adjusting the shape of the Wave and its placement in the midsole.
- Wave‑like shape guides and stabilises the foot.
- Cushion and energy dispersion give a supportive underfoot feeling.
- Found in our support shoes, The Fan Wave provides dynamic support in areas where overpronators need it by adjusting the shape of the Wave with an enhanced to guide and stabilise the foot.
Found in shoes such as the Wave Inspire 16.
INFINITY WAVE - For Neutral Runners
Wave technology with a more visible and effective construction. Two parallel plates that sit together with soft cushioning pillars in-between to provide unrivalled cushioning and improved durability by absorbing and dispersing the impact at foot strike.
The infinity wave features in the Wave Prophecy 9.
DOUBLE FAN-SHAPE WAVE - For Support
Wave technology that gives the highest levels of support combined with excellent cushioning.
But it’s not all about the Wave…
The Wave needs to be housed in a midsole foam. In 2013, Mizuno delivered a foam that was stated to be 30% lighter that their previous foams. Hardly a name that rolls of the tongue, the U4ic foam was a hit and is still used in shoes today. The key benefits you could summarise as lightweight comfort.
A couple of years later, the compound was improved further. The new U4icX foam delivered more energy return in a lighter package. Again, this foam is used in today’s shoes and provides a really comfortable bouncy ride.
Some shoes use a combination of foams and a wave plate. The Wave Rider 23, the latest version at the time of writing this, uses a combination of both U4ic and U4icX, as does the Wave Horizon 4. Many shoes in the line use U4icX just as a heel wedge such as in shoes like the Wave Equate 4.
AP+ is another foam compound offering high degrees of lightweight rebound and cushion durability. It’s a very comfortable foam and used in conjunction with U4icX in the Wave Paradox 5.
The latest tech foam is called XPOP. Mizuno have followed other brands by using TPU pellets embedded in polyurethane. This seems to be a trend at the moment, it delivered a denser cushioning experience. That said, the ride is really good, lasts longer than the other foams but with slightly less energy return.
The uppers have moved on in recent seasons. Many now feature Waveknit technology, basically, an engineered mesh. Mizuno shoes are exceptionally well made. The uppers have welded overlays and thicker TPU overlays in some instances. While some shoes like the Wave Creation 21 look seriously impressive, upper design is one area where Mizuno lack a bit of flair compared to brands such as Saucony and Nike.
We’re big fans of Mizuno. The technology has been around a while but due to the Wave, they feel and ride differently from other brands which in our view is a good thing. They’re exceptionally well made and often durable. One of our favourite models, the Wave Inspire 16 made it on to our Best Shoes of 2020 Guide, but the whole range scores highly.