In the shadow of the Wave Rider, the flagship model of the Japanese brand, the Ultima remains a very popular running shoe that is worth looking into.
Both shoes have the same stack heel height (32 mm) but with a different drop: 12 mm for the Rider and 10 mm for the Ultima. Therefore, the offset is less pronounced on the Ultima, which also gives it a more cushioned forefoot.
In terms of ride, the cushioning of the Rider is softer and more responsive, especially with the new Enerzy foam, absent from the Ultima. However, the Ultima offers more structure with firmer cushioning.
Finally, the Ultima is clearly heavier with 50 g/1.8 oz more than the Rider. That’s a big difference!
Wave Rider vs. Ultima: which one should you choose?
Overall, we recommend the Rider for its more modern and lighter design. The comfortable and bouncy Enerzy foam gives it a big advantage!
However, the Ultima’s extra 2 mm of cushioning under the toes and massive structure may make it more suitable for heavy runners.
Lighter than before (270 g)
Robust, mileage-proof design
Very nice cushioning with softer foam and a slight bounce
Versatile running shoes
The high drop of 12mm
Not the sleekest looking shoe out there
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
Mizuno Wave Ultima 12
|Drop||12 mm||10 mm|
|Heel stack height||32 mm||32 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||20 mm||22 mm|
|Weight (men)||270 g/9.5 oz||322 g/11.4 oz|
|Weight (women)||225 g/7.9 oz||288 g/10.2 oz|
|Outsole||Blown rubber, Flex Controllers, X10||X10|
|Midsole||Mizuno Enerzy, Mizuno Wave Plate, U4ic||U4ic, U4icX, Mizuno Wave, SmoothRide, Premium Insock|
|Upper||Engineered mesh||AIRmesh, Dynamotion Fit|
|Softness (1-5)||3 – Moderate|
|Bounce (1-5)||3 – Moderate|
|Speed||Slow, moderate||Slow, moderate|
|Distance||Mid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathon||Mid, long, half marathon, marathon|
|Workout||Daily runs||Daily runs, recovery|