Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review

Finally time for a non-Brooks shoe review.  I love the Wave Universe series so much.  I really do.  And I will start it off by saying that the Universe 5 is my favorite racing shoe of all time (thus far).

    On deck we have the Mizuno Wave Universe 5.  This is Mizuno's 5k/10k racing flat that comes in at an amazing 2.8 ounces.  This shoe has a 2mm drop according to Running Warehouse (feels flat to me) and a none-removable insole.

    As of now the Wave Universe series has retaken the "lightest racing flat" award back from the New Balance RC5000.  The series is named as such because they are supposed to be the "Lightest Racing Shoes in the Universe" (obviously ignoring any alien races who also happen to run that have created an even lighter shoe that we are not aware of).


    I have a great deal of history with this series.  I have worn the Wave Universe 3, 4 and 5 and have loved each one.  The Wave Universe 3 and Saucony Type A4 were my introductions to minimalist running as I trained in both of them for some time (and loved both of them).  I have raced in all three Universes extensively and have done many workouts in the 3s and 4s.  The 5s I have saved for racing due to a couple reasons I will get into.

   So yeah.  A 2.8 racing flat.  It feels like there is nothing on your feet.  Almost.  The sole is surprisingly cushioned ("cushioned" being an extremely relative term) for how little there is there.  And they are responsive.  REALLY responsive.  The first time I raced in these I set my 5k road PR in 14:45.  That was of course a week before I my peak race at the BAC 5k last summer, which I kinda bombed because I went out too hard with the Kenyans and Ethiopians.  That and I hadn't fully recovered from my PR race (also I'm an idiot, got excited and did too many hard workouts during my peak week).

See how flat that heel drop is??

    These shoes feel really good.  They disappear off your feet and you totally forget about everything down there except how much pop you're getting flying down the road (or track if that's what you're into).  And they feel at or close to zero drop in terms of the heel-toe drop.  So be prepared that if you are not used to running in very low drop shoes, these will wreck your calves.  The Wave Universe 3 and 4 had some drop (4-6mm) to give you some (not much) achilles protection.  These have next to none.  It's like running in a track spike.  The U4ic midsole is very responsive and this is the closest thing I've felt to a track spike for the road.


   And the upper?  A minimalist's dream.  The toebox is non-constricting, fairly wide for a racing shoe (like all the Wave Universes) and the upper is barely there.  In racing conditions I was very nervous about this, but found that when I tied the laces down tight, I had very little to worry about.  Would I like a little more structured upper?  Yes.  I like the midfoot to have some lock down.  But I cannot complain as there is no heel counter and thus nothing to irritate my calcaneus.  Also it's 2.8 ounces.  I don't think they have much more to take out before the shoe falls apart after one race.  So yeah.  I'll shut up about that.

   On a side note, I have not raced sockless in these yet, but wearing them around the house without socks has caused no ill effects.  I'll go hammer out another race soon in the Universe 5 as my achilles is getting used to being in low drop shoes again.  I'll see where I'm at next Saturday and report back with the sockless details. 


    Mizuno did put some strategically placed material (called G3 Sole) to give some traction and bite the road (see the picture above).  Which it totally does.  I have never had to worry about traction in these as they grip the road very well.  The Wave Universe 3 and 4 had decent traction, but this new sole is awesome for the most part.  I do have one problem.

   And that problem?  Outsole durability.  Yeah..... It's not good.  I have 5 races in them with about 20 miles total and the wear is significant.  Yes I get it.  The shoe weighs 2.8 ounces and there is barely anything there.   But for $125 I would hope for some kind of durability.  Which I guess is in the upper.  I'm surprised that with how little upper there is that it has absolutely no rips, tears or any signs of wear compared to the sole.  They seem to be going strong so far despite the outsole wear.  I guess you're paying for the light weight and super responsiveness.  So that's why I keep them for race day only.  But that's really the only problem I have with them and I'm pretty hard on shoes.

  So that is the Mizuno Wave Universe 5.  This is my all time favorite racing shoe.  Not the best durability, but it is a FAST shoe.  I still cannot believe how much relative protection it has for how little shoe is there.

   If nothing else, go try them on.  This shoe is for anyone who wants to run insanely fast over the 5k (maybe 10k).  I would not try them over 10k unless you are a seasoned minimalist runner.  If you are a minimalist runner, you will especially like this shoe.  I started racing in them when I was training in the 6oz Brooks Puredrift.  At 2.8 ounces, there are only a handful of shoes that you could train in where you wouldn't notice the weight step down on race day.

   Give them a shot and go fly down the road.

Thanks for reading!

As always, my opinions are my own*.

Tack On!!

-Matt Klein, SPT

*Shoes were provided free of charge from the Foot Traffic Mizuno Rep Ben Evans.  Because I was bothering him for a free pair.  Thank you Ben!

*Images obtained from the Mizuno Running website.  Go down to your local retailer to check them out!

Comments

  1. you nailed it. i use them to train, and i'm total minimalist. NB minimus zeros were my standard, but these are even freer and more minimal (allowing, or making, your stomach/legs/calves/feet calibrate for a lighter strike, giving you your body less natural impact). and yes, that sole does cushion with remarkable energy return for a thin little sole.

    i hope you're wrong about the durability...i run on concrete sidewalks and road asphalt for an hour at a clip, and i'm 6' 175lb...but after my first run i didn't notice any wear, and a few reviewers actually said they hold up for over 200miles. if that's the case, this is indeed the perfect shoe. nice review, thanks.

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    1. I have not been using mine as of late, but I left them with about 70 miles. The wear didn't seem to change that much after the initial 20 miles, but I also tend to wear out my running shoes pretty quickly. Hope you enjoy them! Let me know how many miles you get out of the Universes!

      Thanks for reading!

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    2. hi...well, here's your feedback. they do NOT seem to wear down because of those black tough sole pieces over the wear spots. i have worn them to 200 miles of training. the problem is that for training (i don't race) after about 50-100 miles they lose some of their amazing resiliency from impact with the pavement/asphalt/concrete i run on. they retain an amazing amount but since they are so thin, it takes the joy out of pounding the pavement. MY solution has been to backtrack to the universe 4, which is not quite so resilient a sole, but close, and it offers 2 more millimeters of padding (if you can call it that) which should keep the shoe usable until it really does wear out (which my universe 5's never did). other racing flats that have waffle patterns will not offer the protection on concrete, and 'minimalist' shoes like merrell or the NB minimus use vibram mostly which is such a dead material it sucks your foot energy away and hurts to land. the universe 5's were perfect but being a race shoe, don't last for pure training on hard surfaces. prior to going for the universe 4 i put some very thin inner soles in only the front (where i land)...like 2mm, which is one way to go...but they have discontinued the universe 5 and i can't find my size...hence why i went to the 4, which oddly enough still has some of my size on various websites. i just bought another of them after wear testing the first pair...i think the extra 2mm might even be responsible for a little bit less back pain i get with my herniated L4 and L5 discs...which makes the universe 4 the perfect training shoe for me. i hope mizuno will keep something in or between the universe 4 and universe 5 in their lineup...it seems they are going to thicker stacked soles, and up to 5 or 6 mm drops...not good as i'm sure you'll agree.

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  2. We have a grass track (I know, laugh), any idea how well these would grip on it?

    Also, is there any slippage that would stop these from being suitable for speedwork, such as sprint reps.

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    1. Honestly a grass track sounds awesome. Probably not the fastest track but a good place to get fast.

      I personally would not use these on grass. I never had any slippage issues on the road but the sole is very smooth. You're probably better off going with the NB RC 5000 which does have a pretty grippy forefoot.

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. Glad to see this review. I was trying to find a pair of the Universe 4's but they just aren't available in anyone's stock anymore. I was afraid they had really changed these with the new model. I've been running in them for years (5K to Marathon) and have been thrilled with the performance. I switched to minimalist about 8 years ago and have never gone back to the "high heeled" shoes.

    I will try my luck with the new model. Maybe now I can run in something besides the fire engine red flames or the spaceship green and purple. ;)

    Thanks again for posting this.

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    1. Thanks for reading!!

      If you enjoyed the Universe 4s I would take a look at the New Balance RC5000 v2 or the Asics Piranha SP 5 which both have a similar weight and profile to the MWU 4.

      Hope that helps!

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  4. Nice review.... I'm still running in the wave 5's and actually bought another pair since they're becoming hard to find. I've been running minimalist for about seven years now, a majority of which were in vibram five fingers. I'm really digging the Mizuno's but have considered going with something with even a bit more substance... Any thoughts on a move to the Nike streak 6's??

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    1. Hello.

      If I was still in a minimalist swing, the Streak 6 would be my go to shoe. It is a 6.5 oz shoe with a wider but snug toebox that feels like it has enough firm cushioning for a variety of distances. Be aware there is an 8mm drop, but I do not notice it much. Going from the Universe 5 is going to be a major difference as the Universe 5 is a next to nothing shoe.

      The Streak LT 3 may be a little more up your alley with the Universe 5, but if you are looking for a little more substance and drop the Streak 6 is perfect. Definitely try before you buy though!

      Hope that helps and thanks for reading.

      -Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT.

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    2. Hey you were right... Tried the streak six and was way too bulky for my liking. Going to try the LT3 now (sale at running warehouse!)

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  5. hey matthew... it's still the same "Unknown" guy asking: have you ever tried new balance cross country shoes like the xc700v2 or the xc900v3 spikeless?

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