mizuno wave rider neo feature
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Mizuno Wave Rider Neo Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.6 oz. (244 g) for a US M7.0
  • All-new Mizuno model featuring all-new Energy midsole
  • Knit upper is nice and secure, although the ride is somewhat unstable
  • Give us an iron throne and we’ll sit our feet on it

ROBBE: It’s been a quiet couple years from Mizuno– aside from the evergreen releases of the standard wave shoes, we haven’t seen anything new. And you know how we love new things. So we were pretty excited when we received the bonkers Enerzy prototype shoe in July, featuring their newest innovation in foam. I will say, we weren’t sure if we were supposed to run in that shoe or make sure we didn’t feed it after midnight for fear of it multiplying into a gooey mess.

It was also $300, which was… weird. But whatever, our eyes survived both the looks and price point of the HOKA ONE ONE TenNine, so nothing can surprise us at this point.

In any case, along with the traditional shoes in the Wave lineup, Mizuno released two brand-new models featuring their Enerzy foam. The ultraweight Mizuno Wave Sky Neo (13 ounces for a US M10.5), and the fairly lightweight Mizuno Wave Rider Neo (this shoe).

At first step-in, the new Enerzy foam felt great. After all, Mizuno brags that it’s 293% softer and 56% bouncier than its predecessors. I still can’t figure out exactly what it’s made of, since we never received an actual spec sheet for it. But it’s a solid step in the right direction for Mizuno.

Let’s get on with the review.

Side note: The shoe I received for this review a half-size too small, so the shoe was definitely snug, but not unrunnable. mizuno wave rider neo top

The Good

ROBBE: I’m a fan of knit uppers, and this shoe does a great job with it. Reminds me of the secure fit of the Nike Epic React. In fact, it may be the closest upper I’ve felt to that, where it’s almost too snug, but forms to your foot as you break it in.

The ultra-high heel is a little weird looking at first, but I ended up really liking it. I don’t know that I’ve seen it before in a non-mid shoe, but I like the support it provided, and the general aesthetic. I imagined I was sitting my foot onto a throne, but not like a Game of Thrones throne, cause then I’d just have a bunch of swords jabbing me in my Achilles. Also, iron thrones are kinda heavy. Bran Stark should look into carbon fiber.

The first ride in the shoe was very nice. I really enjoyed the new Enerzy foam, it has a nice bounce to it. The shoe also trends on the firmer side, especially in the forefoot, which I like because I’m not a huge fan of the plush feel.

Overall, I thought the shoe rolled well through the stride, albeit with a few caveats I’ll address below. I can’t find the drop on the shoe, but it feels pretty severe, so it has to be at least 10 mm. The traditional TPU wave plate also keeps you up on your toes.

The shoe picked up when it needed to, and is on the lighter side of daily trainers, coming in at 8.6 oz./244 g for a US M7.0/W8.5. For the standard size 9, you’re looking somewhere in the mid-9 ounce range, but it’s hard to say because the product page has two different weights listed, so that’s strange.

As far as the purpose of the shoe, I actually think it falls somewhere between a daily trainer and a tempo shoe. The lack of cushion in the forefoot (or at least the firm sensation) would leave me hesitant to take it over 10 miles, but it can definitely work for anything under.

I also really like the design and got multiple compliments on them from friends as I wore them. Which I agree with, it’s a pretty good-looking shoe.

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mizuno wave rider neo heel

The Bad

ROBBE: For starters, no word on when this is released in the U.S., so it’s not like most of our readers can get the shoe, even though it’s been out for two months now. Secondly, the original price point is crazy at 170 Euro/$200. That would make it the most expensive daily trainer on the market right now. (NOTE: As some readers have pointed out, you can get it for a reduced price right now at Running Warehouse EU, for 132 Euro.)

As far as the actual shoe, while I thought the ride was fine overall, it’s a really unstable one. The shoe just feels wobbly in the heel, which I suspect is part of the reason for the high heel collar, for additional support.

The other thing is that I felt the shoe lost most of its magic early on. It firms up after 20 miles so you don’t really get that same bounce you got in the beginning. If you’re looking for a super bouncy, cushioned ride, you won’t find it here. I don’t think that’s necessarily a deal-breaker. The firmness in the forefoot isn’t rock solid or anything, and I think it’s perfectly fine for those who like firm shoes. Just don’t expect that “soft” feeling purported by the Enerzy pitch.

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mizuno wave rider neo outsole

Mizuno Wave Rider Neo Conclusion

ROBBE: I was really excited to see what Mizuno was bringing to the table for 2020, especially when I opened the box and saw the Wave Rider Neo. And while I think the Wave Rider Neo is a pretty good shoe, especially for those looking for a slightly firm, faster shoe with a little bounce, it’s hard for me to recommend it at its current price point. Down around the $130 price point, I think Mizuno fans would have something to be somewhat excited about. But considering the miss on its ultraweight counterpart, I think Mizuno needs to tweak a few things before they’re ready to make a real splash in the running shoe wars.

 

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