Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Review (2022): How Good Is This Classic?
Published on: 12/12/2022The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is a traditional, sturdy and stable running shoe with a high drop and firm ride for daily runs and easy sessions.
Very good traditional, versatile, and robust road shoe. A classic still going strong!
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
The Wave Rider 26 is a sure bet in the Mizuno running series. Quite an achievement after more than a quarter of a century of existence!
This latest iteration continues the improvements started with WR25. For example, the midsole is 2 mm thicker for extra cushioning, providing additional comfort, especially in the heel area.
However, Mizuno has not managed to erase the shortcomings of its previous model:
- a very firm feeling in the forefoot
- a high heel drop of 12 mm, a bit outdated
The redesigned Wave Plate enhances the forward propulsion and stability of the shoe. In this sense, it works perfectly with the outsole, whose new design ensures excellent grip and good durability.
Finally, the secure fit remains a strong point of this running shoe, with a breathable technical jacquard mesh and construction that offers a very good foot lockdown.
For more information, please read our full review of the Mizuno Wave Rider 26.
- Comfortable, breathable, and safe upper
- A discreet but effective energy return at a steady pace
- Highly cushioned heel area
- Excellent stability
- Versatile and robust shoe made to last
- The heel-to-toe drop is still too high
- Too firm a sole under the forefoot despite its thickness (26.5 mm)
Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Complete Review Analysis
And of 26: when you love, you don’t count! The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is the latest in a long and respected running shoe series with a traditional design. Every year, many fans eagerly await the new release of this model, notably favored by the Japanese novelist and runner Haruki Murakami.
Last year, runners appreciated the modernity of the Mizuno Enerzy foam and the lightness of the WR25. On the other hand, they had a little more trouble with the thinness of the sole under the forefoot and the high heel-to-toe drop of the shoe.
Did Mizuno take into account this feedback for its 26th model? Read the following analysis to find out!
The midsole of the Wave Rider 26 uses the same Enerzy foam as the previous model. Runners quite appreciate it for its comfort and durability. Also, Mizuno has increased the stack height by 2 mm on the entire length of the shoe, resulting in 38.5 mm at the heel and 26.5 mm at the toe). This provides even more cushioning, especially in the heel, but also more weight. The forefoot remains a bit thin and stiff, much to the displeasure of runners who would appreciate a little more softness in this area.
The energy return is also more effective and noticeable in this latest model. It’s an exciting evolution, especially considering the Japanese brand is not famous for its responsiveness.
The Mizuno Wave plate is still durable and biobased with some innovations. A new, more streamlined design extends across the width of the running shoe. Above all, its advanced position towards the midfoot allows a more diffuse impact and better stability. And yes, it still allows nice forward propulsion!
Foot lockdown (upper)
This is one of the highlights of this latest iteration of the Wave Rider. The upper gets a modern twist with a comfortable, breathable, and durable engineered mesh jacquard (made entirely from recycled materials).
Lightweight overlays provide welcome reinforcement. The gusseted tongue and heel counter have just the right amount of padding for lockdown and protection. However, a few runners had to securely lock the heel to prevent slipping.
The toe box is flared in the forefoot without being too roomy. As a result, the toes can splay comfortably. However, some runners with wider feet would like it to be wider to improve overall comfort.
Regarding the weight, the Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is a bit heavier (10 oz / 283 g in the men’s version vs. 9.5 oz/270g for the Wave Rider 25). So it is not the lightest running shoe on the market, but not the heaviest either. Also, its durability, cushion, stability, and overall reliable daily trainer DNA warrant it.
There’s also something new here. The new outsole design can be summarized as “fewer grooves, more coverage.” A vertical groove replaces the horizontal grooves of the previous model without taking away from the shoe’s flexibility.
Mizuno did not skimp on the thickness of the XT10 rubber. Its coverage of the entire sole and its position in the right places guarantee excellent traction and effective grip, even on wet pavement. Another positive point: durability seems to be assured!
In short, this outsole gets the job done, and runners are unanimous in their praise.
The overall impression from the first few strides is a nice, somewhat firm, and moderately energetic rid. Classic, traditional, some might say. The thick Enerzy foam/high heel-to-toe drop of the Wave plate works perfectly to give traditional runners a comfortable, secure and smooth ride on the road.
However, the sole needs a few sessions to break in and let you experience the responsive cushioning and forward propulsion this new model offers. Your runs will then improve markedly and become much more enjoyable.
The first point of contention is the forefoot, considered too thin and too firm by many runners, in total contrast to the soft heel. The second is the high heel-to-toe drop of 12 mm, which gives runners the feeling of being pulled down. The feel was awkward for some reviewers, and a bit unpleasant at slower paces.
Finally, transitions are smooth and easy, while landings are comfortable, firm and stable. As a result, it’s an ideal running shoe for daily training, somewhat-tempo sessions, or easy long runs.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 26 remains a must-have running shoe. It mixes tradition, performance, and modernity with firm cushioning, a slight bounce, a high heel-to-toe drop, and an innovative upper, ensuring a good lockdown. Without being soft, it’s undoubtedly the softest Wave Rider to date. Overall, it retains a classic, reasonably stiff ride that suits the series and will delight its fans.
It will suit beginners looking for reliable and safe shoes and more experienced runners who want a classic daily trainer.
Some runners would have liked to see this new model embrace a lower heel-to-toe drop and a more forgiving ride. This major shift hasn’t happened yet, but the Wave Rider is still going strong after 26 years!
|Heel height||38.5 mm|
|Forefoot height||26.5 mm|
|Weight (men)||283 g/10 oz|
|Weight (women)||235 g/8.3 oz|
|Features||Vegan, Recycled materials|
|Midsole||Mizuno Enerzy, Wave, Foam Wave, Premium Insock|
|Distance||Mid, 10K, Half marathon, Long, Marathon|
Reference: Mizuno's official site
Comparisons – Mizuno Wave Rider 26 vs.:
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
So what makes this Wave Rider 26 different from the previous version? Nothing revolutionary, but these few interesting evolutions continue the modernization of the model:
- More stack and midsole for added comfort and cushioning, especially in the heel area
- A new Wave plate design for improved forward propulsion, responsiveness, and stability. Overall, runners report a more pleasant ride and a snappier toe off experience.
- A redesigned outsole with near-full rubber coverage for increased durability
In short, if you enjoyed hitting the pavement with the Wave rider 25, you’ll enjoy it just as much with the 26th!
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