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.

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
Mizuno Wave Ultima 12 score
Mizuno Wave Ultima 12
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A comfortable and sturdy road running shoe for long distances

Mizuno Wave Rider 25

Mizuno Wave Ultima 12

Technical Specs

Pronation typeNeutralNeutral
Drop12 mm10 mm
Heel stack height32 mm32 mm
Forefoot stack height20 mm22 mm
Weight (men)270 g/9.5 oz322 g/11.4 oz
Weight (women)225 g/7.9 oz288 g/10.2 oz
FeaturesHeavyweight runners
Release year20212021
AthleteHaruki Murakami


OutsoleBlown rubber, Flex Controllers, X10X10
MidsoleMizuno Enerzy, Mizuno Wave Plate, U4icU4ic, U4icX, Mizuno Wave, SmoothRide, Premium Insock
UpperEngineered meshAIRmesh, Dynamotion Fit


Softness (1-5)3 – Moderate
Bounce (1-5)3 – Moderate


SpeedSlow, moderateSlow, moderate
DistanceMid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathonMid, long, half marathon, marathon
WorkoutDaily runsDaily runs, recovery