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Mizuno Wave Rider 27: Deceptively Better
By David Salas, Andrea Myers and Bach Pham

Despite Mizuno being a consistent company of tradition, the Mizuno Wave Rider has seen a large number of changes in the last few years. When we established a connection with Mizuno in 2019, our test of the Wave Rider 23 was consistent with prior versions. It was on the lighter side at the time for a daily trainer; it was firm and snappy enough for both easy runs and uptempo efforts. Version 24 was similar with solid refinements while version 25 was a complete departure for the series. Coming in with a new midsole material, it ran soft and had a highly flexible forefoot. While still light, it was different from the traditional Rider series. The Rider 26 overcorrected this coming in heavier, uncomfortably firm/stiff/awkward and still felt completely different from the Rider we all knew. Version 27, despite being supposedly an upper only update, seems to bring balance back to the series. A lighter, better-fitting upper sits up top while a far smoother ride sits underneath to bring the Rider back to its rightful place as a go-to daily training shoe. 

Mizuno Wave Rider 27
Price: $139.95
Weight: 9.9 oz, 280 g (men's size 9), 8.3 oz, 235g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 12mm 
Classification: Neutral Daily Training Shoe


David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 is a pleasant update to the 26. The shoe makes some tweaks to the upper and lacing design which provide a more locked down experience. The upper is from 90% recycled materials and the wave plate is plant based. The shoe is still the high drop training shoe, but transitions smoother through the heel. 

Bach: The Wave Rider series has been somewhat hot and cold for me. Mizuno has made a variety of changes over the past several iterations that surely will have played with Wave Rider loyalists and their preferences. The 26 being a bit too rigid and a net negative over the solid 25, the 27 finds a good middle ground. A spongier forefoot feeling with an improved fit helps the 27 find a return to form.

The Wave Rider 27 is a nice update on the 26, with a better fitting upper and less intrusive heel for midfoot strikers. While I did not particularly enjoy running in the 26 due to the low volume toe box and clunky heel, I was pleasantly surprised by the fit and ride of 27. This could be a great daily trainer for those looking for a higher drop shoe that still has sufficient cushioning in the forefoot.

: Brooks Ghost 15
PAST MODEL: Wave Rider 26


David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The shoe uses a new upper material that is comfortable throughout. The tongue is gusseted and cushioned pretty well throughout. The shoe is able to lockdown without biting at all. The shoe has a heel counter that pulls the foot into the platform a little better than the previous model. The width throughout is normal for all regions. I would not classify the heel, midfoot, or forefoot as wide or narrow. The upper material has a little bit of stretch to it and seems to do okay with swelling accommodation. The fit is much more dialed in throughout and I have not had any issues with heel slippage or translation of the foot. The only thing I can really notice with this model is that it runs a tad long in length. Otherwise the upper is done well. 

Bach: I simply had no issues with the Wave Rider 27 from front-to-back. There was ample room in the toebox to spread my toes. The midfoot has some room for play and cinches down decently once you tie the laces. There is a small touch of extra room that could be further locked down - the Wave Rider 25 knit is an example of a shoe that really locked down in all the right ways and one I think about often when trying other shoes - but still serves it's purpose fine. The heel has a rigid counter. I had no issues with slipping or swimming, and felt the shoe breathed very well.

Andrea: The Wave Rider 27 fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5 Compared to version 26, there is increased volume in the toe box and I did not experience any pinching on the dorsum of my toes when walking or running. I had a full thumb's width from the front of my big toe to the end of the shoe, and the mesh upper has a small amount of stretch to accommodate the foot. The midfoot and rearfoot are normal width, which I found to fit comfortably without any pressure points. The tongue is of moderate thickness and is partially gusseted. The laces are flat, have a small amount of stretch, and lock the foot down well without the need for a heel lock. There is a large, rigid external heel counter with a moderate amount of padding internally. I found the rearfoot secure and comfortable, without any slippage or irritation around the heel or Achilles. Mizuno did a great job with the fit of this shoe, which is a welcome improvement on the previous version.


David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 does its job well. The shoe is definitely a daily training shoe that operates best at those paces. The shoe maintains the high drop ratio from previous models and cleans up the initial contact phase. The changes in the upper did help with some of the heel slippage I got in the previous models. The shoe runs on the firmer side, as most Mizuno shoes do. With that said there is still plenty of cushioning for daily mileage. The Mizuno Enerzy midsole does have a little bounce to it when pushed. The forefoot has some rigidity to it, but seems to flex a little better in this current model. The Wave Rider 27 feels much more cyclical in its transitions and seems to be going back to the transitions that I found myself to enjoy in the 23, 24, and 25 Knit. I do feel the heel could be beveled a tad more to ease the transition from the high heel. The shoe does not feel like its crashing into the forefoot as much as the 26, but still has a little bit of slapping sensation. The Wave Rider 27 is still that high drop traditional training shoe that has been around for generations. 

Bach: The most noticeable thing about the Wave Rider 27 for me compared to the 26 is that the forefoot feels much more comfortable. There's just the faintest bit of softness that was completely missing in the past version which makes the ride so much better. That, with the improved upper, translates to a very solid, reliable ride for everyday running. Neutral runners not used to a rigid heel that the wave plate provides may find it a bit jarring if you are used to flexibility. While I wish the plate was a touch more flexible, it does provide a fairly stable feeling rearfoot. The forefoot has a tad of flexibility - nowhere as much as Version 25 - but certainly more than 26.

One thing that I can't not notice is the drop. It absolutely feels all of it's 12mm of drop, and you do have a bit of a slanted sensation stepping into the shoe. That doesn't stop the shoe from performing, but I do wish it was at least 10mm, if not 8.

I've used the shoe for easy daily runs and a long run. It performs fine at logging miles, and can pick up the pace just a touch for strides, but I would pick another shoe for workouts. For the long run, it felt fine, but I did want a little more shoe towards the end of my run, or something just a little peppier. I have no doubt it could handle long, steady miles if needed, but I think I would rather have a rotational shoe that handled that while this logged all of my everyday miles. I've also used it for walking which it does a relatively good job for. Again, the drop does feel quite elevated and if that is something you are sensitive too, then this might not be your cup of tea.

The outsole does a decent job of gripping the road. It handled some wet days just fine. I took it over a very wet wooden bridge and was surprised to have no issues covering that section despite being nervous going into it. I would not say it was top of class, but you can do road, grass, and dirt just fine in the shoe. Expect fairly average durability of 250-350 miles depending how hard you are with shoes (I still had pretty good coverage after 125 miles in the Wave Rider 25, which uses what seems like the same formula).

After my experience with version 26, I was hesitant to take 27 on a longer first test run, but I found it so comfortable I did 5 easy miles without any issues. While it feels every bit a 12mm drop shoe, I did not find the heel to get in the way as I did in version 26. The forefoot also feels like it has a little more cushioning than 26, which made midfoot landings more comfortable. A larger heel bevel could further improve its performance for those who land further forward. This shoe is designed for and is best at easy paces due to its high drop and lack of rearfoot or forefoot rockers. Because it lacks significant rocker geometry, it feels like a relatively neutral shoe that lets your mechanics do the work. The forefoot has some flexibility, which I think helps soften the ride as well. The shoe is a reasonable weight at 8.3oz for a women's size 8 and does not feel heavy on foot. The near full rubber coverage on the outsole provides excellent traction, both on wet roads and on dirt (although it is not a trail shoe). The high rubber coverage should provide excellent outsole durability as well.


David: The Wave Rider has always done a pretty good job with stability. The shoe runs on the firmer end and does a good job with integrating light sole flaring and sidewalls. The X10 traction is done well and I have had no issues with slipping. The upper has a little bit of stretch to it, though not enough to feel insecure. The Wave Rider is a model that I feel would fall into that stable neutral category. 

Bach: The Wave Rider 27 overall is somewhat stable, but still neutral in some regards. The upper does a good job of providing security while the wave plate in the rearfoot does a good job of stabilizing and providing a rigid rear. Love it or hate it, the 12mm drop does also pitch you forward. I was worried that the midfoot being slightly raised and not flush with the ground along with slightly narrow would be a problem, but I didn't have any challenges across my 25 miles of testing. It can feel a little clunky in the rear though which is where it loses some points for me. The rearfoot could use more beveling to help faciliate a cleaner transition. I don't think in its current state someone moving down from a stability shoe will feel completely at home in the Wave Rider 27 compared to other stable neutral shoe options like a New Balance More v4 or On Cloudgo. The forefoot, however, is fairly generous and the subtle sole flaring does not hurt.

The Wave Rider 27 is a neutral shoe with some stability elements. The well-fitting upper in combination with medial and lateral sidewalls contribute to excellent foot lockdown and stability. The wider base in the forefoot and mild sole flare in the rearfoot and forefoot may help to center the foot from initial contact to pushoff. There is also a laterally biased guidance line that runs from the rearfoot to the forefoot, which may help to mildly control the rate of pronation (although I did not experience this during my test runs). The wave plate provides rigidity in the rearfoot that then transitions to a mildly flexible forefoot, which could gently guide transition to pushoff. This is definitely not a stability shoe, but could be considered a mild stable neutral shoe for rearfoot strikers. 

Culture Corner: Where it Started and Where We Are Today
By Bach Pham

Over the past 25 years, the Wave Rider has been a staple of the Mizuno line. The first Wave Rider debuted in 1998, introducing the Mizuno Wave system. Much of what makes Mizuno was already present in this model, particularly the introduction of the wave plate to stiffen the heel which has been a signature since day one. Models over the first decade worked on refining the shoe and importantly shaving weight. Starting Version 1 which came in at 362 g, 12.7 oz, Version 10 clocked in at 315 g, 11.1 oz. Today the Wave Rider 27 shaves down to 280g, 9.9 oz.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to see through the history of the Wave Rider is the shifting evolution of how running shoes are developed. Originally larger, intensely structured, and more akin to what we see in basketball shoes today shape-wise, the decades have slimmed the Wave Rider and highlights the dramatic shift running shoes have taken over the many years.

What has remained constant and signature to the Rider is the above mentioned wave system. Mizuno is unique in the way it has long applied plate technology in shoes, well before carbon fiber plates entered the market. The rearfoot wave plate acts to not only stabilize the heel, but push runners forward and facilitate a transition unique to Mizuno and helps make what could be an awkward ride at the height it is more propulsive. Here's a past write-up by David Salas on how the Wave Plate helps achieve this:

"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: The Wave Rider 27 was a very enjoyable shoe for me. I feel the heel transition could still be worked out with more beveling or softening the foam in that region. The length could also be shortened a tad as well. Otherwise I was really happy with my experience in the Wave Rider 27. 

Bach: If there was one change I could make, it would be to drop the shoe from 12 to 8mm, at least 10 to begin with. I think this would be a big improvement in the ride and not feel so elevated. Whether you add stack to the front or take away from the back, I think either scenario would be an improvement to the Wave Rider that opens the shoe up to a wider audience.

Additional lateral beveling would also help clean up the rearfoot further.

Andrea: Mizuno did a good job improving the fit of the upper and the cushioning in the forefoot. I do think that this shoe would have a smoother ride, particularly for midfoot or forefoot strikers, with an 8 or 10mm drop and a larger heel bevel. The 27 is definitely an improvement on 26, but the shoe could definitely work for more runners by cleaning up the rearfoot geometry.


David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 is a daily training shoe for those that like neutral shoes with high drop ratios. The shoe has a very traditional feel to it and stays true to its roots. The X10 rubber should provide plenty of outsole durability and this could be a workhorse for many miles to come. 

Bach: If you are a longtime Wave Rider fan, the 27 is a definite improvement over 26 and a solid performer all-around that you'll be happy with. Other runners may include Brooks Ghost fans who just want to try something a little different. I would say the ride here is a bit more fun thanks to the Enerzy foam. It's overall a very traditional shoe overall that will suit runners who prefer older models from years past than what is available in the market now. The Wave Rider 27 does remind me of the Pegasus in some ways, particularly with this year's fit, the slightly more responsive forefoot, and its ability to do a little bit of any terrain - just with a slightly more stable rearfoot and higher drop.

The Wave Rider 27 is an easy shoe to rotate with just about anything from a performance trainer to super shoe. Any Rebellion model in the Mizuno line is definitely a great pairing to offer a faster training option. It will also pair well with a max cushion shoe which can handle the long efforts.

Andrea: The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 is for runners who prefer high drop, neutral daily trainers. Like previous versions, the 27 reminds me of the daily trainers I ran in as a middle and high schooler 20+ years ago. For those who like more traditional shoe geometry, the Wave Rider 27 will be a great option thanks to its well-fitting upper and balanced cushioning. At $140, it is relatively reasonably priced considering its high outsole durability.


Fit: A- (A good fitting upper that keeps your foot on the platform comfortably. Shoe does run a tad long.)
B+ (A good shoe to fall asleep and run some daily miles. Heel transition could be smoother by either beveling more or softening foam.)
Stability: A (A trustworthy shoe that can go off road for some light trail miles without worry.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Nothing revolutionary here, though Mizuno is doing a good job of incorporating bio based sources into its shoes without sacrificing quality of product.)
Personal: B+ (A really good daily training option that could still improve in a couple of ways)
Overall: B+ (A good daily training shoe that stays true to its roots as a high drop daily trainer.)


Fit: A- (I had no issues overall. It fit well and breathed well. There is some room for perfection in the next version, but quality overall)
B (Does its job of handling everyday miles fine. I don't think it's the most versatile or exciting shoe, but competent for logging the majority of your weekly runs)
Stability: B+ (Upper security and wave plate provide a lot of security over its peers)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Not the biggest update for Mizuno, but does adjust some issues in the prior model)
Personal: B/B+ (There are days when this shoe just locks in and feels great, and then days where it feels like a lot of drop)
Overall: B+
Fit: A- (Improved volume in the toe box and excellent lockdown make this a great improvement on v26)
Performance: B 
(Decent comfort for midfoot landings, but not a shoe I will reach for in the future due to 12mm drop. Rearfoot strikers will likely find this shoe more comfortable than I did for easy miles.)
Stability: B+ (A lightly stable neutral shoe. Good use of guidance lines, mild sole flaring, and plate to make a comfortable and centered ride.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (A good update to the upper and improved cushioning in forefoot, which made work better for my mechanics. Could be further improved with less drop and more heel bevel.)
Personal: B- (While it is an improvement on 26, it is still not a shoe I will run in again due to its high drop.)
Overall: B+ 


Mizuno Wave Rider 27
Price: $140 at Mizuno

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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.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Mizuno for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our 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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ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25

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