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Mizuno Wave Rider 23 Multiple Tester Review

The Mizuno Wave Rider series is one of the longest standing shoe lines that has been produced of any running shoe company. We now are on the 23rd version of this shoe and you have to start to wonder, "how many times can you change something and still see improvements?" Well, Mizuno has done just that with this version. The midsole and outsole may be the same as its predecessor, but a new engineered mesh upper is the perfect example of how a shoe can feel completely different just because of the what is securing your foot from above. Throw out the specs (weight, drop, etc.) because this shoe doesn't feel like what it's listed as (in the best way possible). Let's check it out.

Specifications (per Mizuno Tech Sheet)
Weight: 10.2 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Classification: Daily Trainer


Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 pairs an incredibly comfortable upper with a responsive, firmer and lightweight ride.  The rare trainer that can handle workouts with ease thanks to the snappy sole and an adaptable and supportive upper.  The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 blew me away and has quickly become a shoe I continue to reach for no matter the run.

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is lightweight trainer that can pretty much do it all! Its firm responsive feel provides a ride that is snappy, light, and enjoyable at nearly all paces. The upper is incredibly breathable with no evidence of tearing or breaking down.

Nathan: I ran my first marathon in Wave Riders back in 2017, so this shoe holds a special place in my heart...or on my feet. I have experience in versions 18, 20, and 22, and as much as I've enjoyed them there has been something missing regarding how secure the shoe felt and functioned as nothing more than a daily trainer. Even though the only change from the 22 is the upper, it feels like a completely new shoe to me. It went from a casual trainer to one that now can be used for some performance training runs. A breathable, comfortable, and secure upper tops off a tried and true midsole. Durability, versatility, and comfort define this shoe. My favorite trainer of the year so far.


Matt: The Miuzno Wave Rider 23 fits me perfectly in my normal size.  I am normally a size 10 mens and my size 10 fit spot on.  The upper in the forefoot is adaptable, yet hugs the foot without causing too much pressure.  Mizuno, as usual, has plenty of forefoot room (there is a 2E if you need it, but most will not).  The fit is very dialed in without being compression.  The midfoot is very supportive and holds the foot on the platform well.  It isn't a snug fit and is definitely on the medium side.  The heel is definitely a little more narrow and holds the foot quite well by itself.  I did not need to lace lock the shoe (I did anyway).  There is a large heel counter in the posterior section, but there is plenty of cushioning in the upper that it did not cause me any issues (and I am normally very sensitive to that).  Overall the upper kept me locked down on the shoe and supported my foot well even on turns.  Yet it still had the "disappearing off the foot" feeling from the first run.  It really holds the foot very well and I am quite impressed with this update. 

David: The Wave Rider 23 fits incredibly well with an upper that is at the top of the game.  It is true to size with an upper that holds well to the foot while not providing any areas of excessive rubbing. The length and the width fit well, providing no translation of my feet when landing or turning.  The heel cup may be a little more narrow than some of the other shoes on the market which can put a small compressive force on the calcaneus and the retrocalcaneal bursa, but this may not be the case for every one.

Nathan: The upper was the major update to the Wave Rider 23. The 22 sported some larger holes for breathability in the upper, but I found that over time they loosened and my foot would slide a bit on harder runs and when turning. This is far from the case with the new upper on the 23. It has a very secure upper without sacrificing breathability, comfort, or volume, Mizuno hit is out of the park for me with this upper. The shoe fits true to size, has a roomy toe box, and the upper is accommodating enough to welcome slightly larger volume feet.


Matt: As with most Mizuno shoes, the ride of the Ride is on the firmer side.  This is not a bad thing as it does contribute to how stable this shoe feels (more on that down below).  The wave plate remains and continues to provide a push forward for those that land farther back.  I expected to have a bumpy ride with the 12mm drop, but the wave plate does a great job of transitioning you forward without feeling like you hit a speed bump.  Although you can feel the drop, it does not seem to get in the way.  For those that are extremely sensitive to wear your foot lands, this may not be the shoe for you, but for everyone else, this is a great shoe to unload your achilles.  I came into this review with some mild achilles tendinitis and did not notice it at all.  Toe off is extremely smooth thanks to flexibility in the forefoot.  There is a solid heel bevel, so even with the drop, landings are smoother than expected.  The rearfoot and midfoot are very stable thanks to the plate, but not in an overly stiff way.  Being a heel striker, I am very impressed with the ride as well as the fact that the 12mm drop did not inhibit my stride.

David: Mizuno did a good job of giving the Wave Rider 23 a ride that is true to its name.  The ride has a firm and responsive feel not seen in most daily trainers without jeopardizing cushion or structure for training. The wave plate helps contribute greatly to the fluid ride that this shoe provides.  With a 12 mm drop ratio, this shoe gives favor to the hindfoot and midfoot rocker points during the gait cycle.  Because of this, it may be more enjoyable for runners who are heel or midfoot strikers.  Though I am a forefoot striker, I still enjoyed this shoe (the drop ratio is just a little higher than I am used to).

Nathan: For those who have run in any shoe with the wave plate in the past, you know it's a slightly more firm ride. The 12 mm drop is on the high end of the spectrum, but this is one of those times you can forget the spec sheet. The heel does not impede at all and the shoe felt great for rear and midfoot striking. The wave plate provides a snappy and smooth transition to the forefoot which made the shoe feel even lighter than its 10.2oz stat line, and makes the shoe feel really responsive, particularly when heel striking. Bear with me in my processing, but the ride of this shoe compared to the 22 felt so much better even though the midsole is the same, and it must have been the security of the upper that made this shoe feel more snappy and more efficient without any excess slipping of the foot.


Matt: Despite being classified as a neutral trainer, the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is one of the more stable shoes I have had the opportunity to run in.   The wave plate in the heel and midfoot provide plenty of stability by guiding/propelling the foot forward as you land.  The heel counter is very thick and although padded does a great job of locking the heel in place.  The forefoot flex grooves do a great job of guiding the foot forward.  Overall the Wave Rider 23 has a high level of torsional rigidity thanks to the plate and appropriate placement of flex grooves.  Thus making it a stable shoe without the need for posting.

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is a neutral trainer, and therefor does not have any formal stability features.  However, this is one of the more stable neutral trainers on the market which makes it especially appealing. With the firm construction of the shoe, it is more forgiving to mechanical faults the runner may have.  The heel cup is firm and does not allow the heel to slip at all. The midfoot has the hard plastic wave technology underneath which may indirectly act as a point of stability (less than a posting, but more than foam alone. The forefoot provides forefoot flexibility, while also being rigid enough to resist torsion.

Nathan: This is a neutral shoe, but the integrity of the wave plate, firm nature of the foam, rigid heel cup, and wide forefoot platform make this a stable shoe to land on and push off of. There is enough flexibility in the forefoot to make toe off smooth, but not so much to make it feel unstable during push off.


Matt: The Wave Rider 23 is a surprisingly fast trainer.  The is the first trainer I have used for workouts in years.  With the firmness of the shoe and the responsiveness of the plate, the option to pick up the pace is quite evident.  Even on easy runs, I was able to start picking up the pace.  Workout wise I have used this shoe from recovery runs, intervals and all the way up to tempo and long runs.  Although not the absolute fastest shoe out there, the Wave Rider 23 has the versatility to drop the pace when needed.  Although listed at 10.2 ounces, it feels like a lightweight trainer, especially with the pace picks up.  Workout wise this shoe feels best though during tempo or marathon workouts as the combination of responsiveness, stability and protection do a great job over longer distances.

David: This trainer is almost a do it all trainer.  With how firm and responsive the shoe is, whoever is running in it will have a tendency to want to run fast.  The shoe weighs in at 10.2 ounces but definitely runs faster than this. It can easily get up to moderate paces, but does have difficulty with faster paces.  The shoe can easily handle marathon type workouts, but may be unable to suffice for more 10k and under type workouts. Overall... great for daily runs, long runs, marathon workouts! Very versatile.

Nathan: 10.2oz? Never would have guessed that after running in it. This shoe was great for half marathon and marathon training and longer workouts. I'm currently in pursuit of breaking the 1.5 hour half marathon, and this shoe held strong for some of my longer (7-8 mile) tempo runs. I did a casual pace 15 mile run yesterday and the shoe felt light and protective for all 15 miles. Not a racing shoe necessarily, but can be the perfect pick for anyone trying to complete their first 10K, half, or full marathon.

Matt's pair at +150 miles


Matt: I have over 150 miles on my pair and am only beginning to see some wear in the posterior lateral heel on my left shoe (yes, I am asymmetrical).  The ride however has not changed since my initial try with the exception of slightly less stiff.  The upper still looks brand new despite the intensity of workouts I have used this shoe for.  Overall I have to give massive points for durability to the Mizuno Wave Rider 23.
David's Outsole

Mizuno is earning brownie points with me on durability because their shoes are not seeming to break down. After 50 miles the outsole shows hardly any wear and the foam doesn't show any signs of cracks or break down. The upper is not quite as durable as the Wave Knit Wave Sky 3 upper, but shouldn't give you any problems with tearing.

Nathan: As always, the Mizuno outsole seems to last forever. No sign of wear, and I put hundreds of miles on previous versions without outsole wear becoming an issue. I run most miles on crushed gravel trails, and the outsole has held up great. The wave plate and foam continue to feel snappy and smooth without any deadening. No issues with the upper either.


As seen in the picture below, this portion of the review today will focus on the wave plate that helps give the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 the silky smooth ride that it provides.  The wave plate is a wave of hard plastic that extends from the rearfoot into the midfoot and really helps with the transfer of energy and forces.  When we run, there are two main types of energy being produced; potential energy and kinetic energy.  Both of these are important, for kinetic energy is in part reliant on potential energy.  Potential energy is the amount of energy stored (either intrinsically in the body or within the midsole of the shoe) and kinetic energy is the actual output of energy involved with movement.  For heel strikers and midfoot strikers that land a little further back, they will really feel this wave plate in their shoe.  The wave plate decreases the amount of potential energy that is lost after the transition from heel strike to toe off.  In softer shoes, more force may dissipate, making the ride plush but not very responsive or fast.  In the Wave Rider, the plate makes the ride more firm and responsive and gives heel strikers a point to drive from.  The plate has less give in it than traditional foam, and so there will in theory be much less of a collapse (or foot slap) from a heel striker in this shoe.

- David Salas, PT, DPT, CSCS


Matt: I am really impressed with the Wave Rider 23 from a biomechanical and fit perspective.  However, in this day and age I would like to see Mizuno bring the drop down to a more moderate level like 9-10mm.  I just got my hands on the Mizuno Wave Aero 17 (review soon) which has that level of drop and that little change makes a enough of a difference.   I still enjoy the ride and have put well above the average number of miles on these (going on 150 miles) but find myself reaching for lower drop shoes after a while.  That however is personal preference.  I would also like to see Mizuno make this shoe full ground contact.  This is already a stable and smooth shoe, but believe that may improve the transition further.

David: Though I don't normally run in high drop shoes, I really enjoyed the Wave Rider 23's. My main recommendation for this shoe would be to just make the heel cup a little wider and less compressive.  Other than that, this is a shoe that should be on most peoples running list. It is part of my "nine club", a group of shoes that reach 9/10 in my books.

Nathan: I hope this shoe continues to develop as it has over the years. Change it too much and it no longer will be the beloved Wave Rider. One minor recommendation (more of a preference, really) could be making the "Runbird" logo flush with the mesh, more like it is in the Wave Shadow 3 or Wave Sky Waveknit 3. That would make the upper even more seamless and comfortable.


Matt: I did not expect to love the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 as much as I do.  This shoe is for those looking for a higher drop, stable neutral trainer for all their running needs.  A well fitting upper will provide plenty of room and support for a variety of foot types.  The sole is on the firmer side, but provides enough speed and protection for both faster and longer efforts.  For those looking for one shoe for all their training (and racing at the marathon for many), check this shoe out.

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is for a runner that enjoys neutral training shoes with hints of light stability.  The shoe is able to take on daily training and high mileage, while also being able to turn it up to marathon type workouts.  For those who may be on a budget and are looking for a shoe that can handle daily runs, longer workouts, or recreational type racing, this is a shoe that is worth looking at!

Nathan: I fully expected to enjoy the Wave Rider 23, but did not expect to love it as much as I did. It makes me sad knowing that I have to hang this show up for a while while I wear test other shoes. The updated upper hit the mark and made an already good trainer a great one. For those looking for a durable shoe with a slightly firmer ride and are looking to run a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon, you won't be disappointed. This is a perfect shoe for new and experienced runners alike.

Fit                     9.5/10 (Upper extremely comfortable, -0.5 for large stiff heel counter)
Ride                  9.0/10 (Extremely smooth ride, -1 for higher drop and split outsole)
Stability            10/10 (As stable as a neutral trainer can be without a post)
Speed               9/10 (Handles workouts very well for a trainer, but lacks speed for racing)
Durability         10/10 (Very little wear and change in ride over >150 miles even on trails)

Fit                     9.5/10 (-0.5 for narrow heel cup that can potentially be compressive on calcaneus)
Ride                  9.5/10 (-0.5 for potential discomfort with those who land more midfoot/forefoot)
Stability            9.25/10 (high mark for high stability for a neutral shoe)
Speed                9/10 (high mark for handling all paces up to marathon workouts)
Durability         9.75/10 (Handles high mileage. Upper could potentially break down in harsh conditions)

Fit                     10/10 (high marks for secure and comfortable upper)
Ride                  9/10 (-1 for less smooth/snappy ride for mid/forefoot runners)
Stability            10/10 (as stable as possible for a neutral shoe)
Speed                8.5/10 (high marks for versatility, -1.5 for lack of top speed for true half/full racing)
Durability         10/10 (high marks for outsole and wave plate integrity)

Total Score: % (M: 9.5/10  D: 9.4/10 N: 9.5/10 )

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Mizuno Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-50 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently we have 155 miles (Matt), 37 miles (Nathan) and 51 miles (David) on our pairs. Our views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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