There was a time when the difference between these two flagship models of the Japanese brand was clear. However, over time, the cushioning of the Rider has softened while the Sky has become lighter.

In 2021, the Wave Sky is still clearly more cushioned, with a difference in the stack of 5 mm under the heel and 9 mm (!) under the forefoot.

In addition, the drop of the Rider is 12 mm which is high and a bit outdated. The Sky 5 has a more moderate heel to toe drop of 8mm.

The feel underfoot is equivalent even if, overall, runners note that the cushioning of the Wave Sky is a little softer. In terms of responsiveness, even though both shoes use the same technologies (including the new Enerzy foam), the Rider clearly has the edge. Of course, this is primarily due to its lighter design (40 g/1.41 oz less).

Finally, note that the toe box of the Wave Rider is more spacious than that of the Wave Sky. Runners with wide feet, you’ve been warned!

Wave Rider or Wave Sky: which one should you choose?

Overall, the Mizuno Wave Rider 25 seems like a better choice. For equivalent comfort, you have a much lighter and more responsive shoe. Also, the durability is very good in both cases.

Side-by-side comparison

Bottom Line
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
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A very good, versatile, and sturdy running shoe with a classic ride
Great comfort
Lighter than before (270 g)
Robust, mileage-proof design
Very nice cushioning with softer foam and a slight bounce
Versatile running shoes
Good lockdown
Thin forefoot stack height, according to some testers
The high drop of 12mm
Not the sleekest looking shoe out there
A very good maximal cushioning, comfortable, and sturdy road shoe
Soft cushioning and energy return
Flexible and stable ride
  Sturdy design with high-quality materials
  Stretchy woven upper provides good foot support
Price a bit high
Can do better with breathability
The shoe is a little heavy

Mizuno Wave Rider 25

Mizuno Wave Sky 5

Technical Specs

Pronation typeNeutralNeutral
Drop12 mm8 mm
Heel stack height32 mm37 mm
Forefoot stack height20 mm29 mm
Weight (men)270 g/9.5 oz311 g/11 oz
Weight (women)225 g/7.9 oz275 g/9.7 oz
Release year20212021
AthleteHaruki Murakami


OutsoleBlown rubber, Flex Controllers, X10X10
MidsoleMizuno Enerzy, Mizuno Wave Plate, U4icMizuno Enerzy, U4icX
UpperEngineered meshEngineered mesh


Softness (1-5)3 – Moderate4 – Soft
Bounce (1-5)3 – Moderate3 – Moderate


SpeedSlow, moderateSlow, moderate
DistanceMid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathonMid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathon
WorkoutDaily runningDaily running
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Kevin Le Gall

Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner's Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He's also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.