Mizuno Wave Rider 21

9.5
9.5 score
[Editors rating (9.5)] = (TheGearHunt) score (9.5)/10


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Editor rating: 9.5 / 10
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Mizuno Wave Rider 21 Review Facts

Most people have heard about the numerous benefits cardiovascular exercise provides, but many don’t know the potential harm high-impact training can have on the body over time. Running long distances can put a lot of stress onto your bones and weight-bearing joints. Hips, ankles, and knees, are all potential contenders for high-impact injuries down the line if precautions during exercise are not taken in the here and now. When people learn about the dangers of high impact training on the body, it may feel natural to shy away from activities like running altogether. But life is short and we shouldn’t be afraid to do the things we love. Instead of counting running off immediately because of the potential harm it can cause, why not simply invest in the only piece of equipment needed for a safe running experience–a great pair of protective running shoes! If you wouldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, it makes sense that you wouldn’t go running for long distances without a shoe built for that very purpose. A good running shoe may be somewhat of a financial investment, but for the potential dangers they help to protect you from down the road, the extra cash is totally worth it.

Mizuno has been perfecting on the Wave Rider running shoe series since 1997. The first shoe in the series–the Wave Rider–was released with an innovative grooved plate designed to function both as a foot stabilizer and as an impact dissipater. One year later the Wave Rider 2 was released building upon the last model with a lighter wave plate and a new X10 rubber outsole with 80% more resistance to corrosion. Nearly every year Mizuno finds an ingenious way to one-up their previous models’ prior performance and protection attributes. Again improving upon their predecessor, the Wave Rider 21’s are no exception to Mizuno’s consistent ability to improve upon their past success. The Rider 21’s have everything we loved about the 20’s: the cloud shaped plate for better rebound and stability, and the U4icx foam that strengthened the midsole providing increased cushioning. In addition to the great features from Rider 20’s, the Rider 21’s feature a newly engineered “triple zone” mesh upper that adapts to the form of your foot in motion. The new mesh helps the runner escape the uncomfortable period that many refer to as the breaking in period of the shoe. The Mizuno Wave Rider 21 is not only progressive in the Wave Rider line but solid competition for the other neutral runners at its price range. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of this shoe and see if it is truly worth the investment.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Great breathability

Spacious toebox

Firm and supportive midsole

Responsive and shock absorbent

Breathable mesh

Lightweight

Very comfortable

Cons

Lets in cold air

May be too firm for longer marathons

May feel clunky for some runners

Outsole

The Wave Rider 21’s have a great outsole that is both durable and sticky enough for good traction. The outsole is composed of Mizuno’s X10 carbon rubber compound durable enough to withstand wear in its high impact areas. Users of the Rider 21’s report getting 300-500 miles before they begin to notice wear and tear on the footbed or midsole making the Rider 21’s a great price for how much you get out of them. The midsole foam tends to wear out first and flatten only after these shoes have been thoroughly used and abused for a long time.

Midsole

The midsole of this shoe is really where it shines. It is composed of three different parts all contributing toward the shoes superior stability, durability, and impact absorption. Like its predecessor, the Wave Rider 21 makes good use of Mizuno’s “Cloudwave” technology that they have been perfecting since the late 1990’s. The wave plate is composed of a very durable plastic called Polyether block amide. Mizuno shapes this plastic into the best shape suitable to not only absorb impact, but to also provide great stability. The wave shape disperses the shock from your foot-fall laterally throughout the entire length of the shoe creating a great responsive feeling. In addition, polyether block amide is also an extremely light weight material, allowing Mizuno an edge over their competitors when it comes to shoe-weight. The wave plate sits nestled between Mizuno’s U4ic and U4icx high density foam located in both the midsole and crashpad (bottom heel) of the shoe further increasing the shock absorption while allowing for excellent durability.

Insole

The isole of the Rider 21’s is very smooth and comfortable overall. From the mostly positive reviews about the shoes internal comfort, only a few very minor downsides were reported. The vertical space inside the toebox combined with the spacious midfoot gives your toes room to splay out as you push off from your stride. The large mesh area of the shoe has only one logo overlay which reduces potential pressure point locations.

Weight

Weight doesn’t always contribute to the efficiency or speed of the runners stride but it does add to how well the shoe deals with the impact it endures. As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. With a heavy setted shoe you simply don’t often get the feeling of a springy response that adds momentum to each stride. Weighing in at a mere 9.6 oz (272 gms) for a man’s size 9, the Rider 21’s are considered to be a lightweight running shoe. The cushion to weight ratio for this shoe is definitely one of its strengths that users consistently praise. Their lightweight materials coupled with their responsiveness makes for a uniquely enjoyable ride that will mitigate the stress put onto your bodies joints.

Breathability

The Rider 21’s upper is made with a triple layered flexible mesh. The mesh allows for excellent airflow throughout the shoe while still providing a snug hold that moves with your foot instead of holding it back. The mesh also mitigates most fitting problems and adapts well to the individual quality of most feet. The only downside is that because of the Rider 21’s great airflow, customers reported that they tend to let in cold air (a problem for winter months).

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, the Wave Rider 21’s pretty much nail it. As mentioned previously, the shoe features a wide toebox that allows for your toes to fan out and not feel lumped together. The shoes hold your feet in place without burdening them with excessive pressure. Improving from their previous model, the Rider 21’s now have extra cushioning in the heel collar and tongue of the shoe. The improved sockliner not only serves to protect your feet from nasty blisters, but adds even more padding creating a soft step-in sensation. The shoe is reported by buyers to fit as expected, while avoiding the narrow midsole plaguing many other brands. Some users say that for very long marathons (plus 10 miles), the Rider 21’s may be bit too firm compared to their competitors.

Style

The Rider 21’s definitely have that sleek and modern look. The transparency of the triple zone mesh creates a stylish affect as each layer can be seen through the other. The Mizuno logo sits squarely between the midsole and upper contrasting well with its mesh fabric. It comes available in 5 different color combinations including: black, lime green, eclipse, silver, and classic blue. The only aesthetic complain about this shoe was that some wearers didn’t like its width and felt it to be a bit clunky or noisy compared to some softer brands.

Protection

Due to this shoes 12mm drop, the runners foot will generally move along the ground in the order of heel-to-toe. The Wave Rider 21 protects its runner with its ample amount of foam padding for shock absorption in the heel area. Buyer reviews consistently mention how comfortable this shoe feels for heavier runners who struggle to find something that is both light and bouncy. Users also report the Rider 21’s to be an excellent choice for those with high arches, flat feet, and many who suffer from chronic pain/injury. The sock liner in the insole of the shoe protects runners from irritating friction, while the breathable mesh keep your feet cool and dry.

Responsiveness

With the Rider 21’s you won’t feel like your feet are crashing down onto the pavement. This shoe is great at transferring the energy of foot-fall impact to forward momentum for a quick stride frequency. As your foot hits the ground, the sturdy crashpad springs the mid-foot up and forward giving the runner a very natural ride. As a result, these shoes are great for daily training, especially if you want to work on your speed.

Terrain

These shoes are very versatile and perform well on many different terrains. They are suitable for the track, the treadmill, and even some light trails. The durable and slip-resistant X10 outsole will give you confidence in their ability to take a beating. But remember, these shoes are by no means waterproof, so it pays to be cautious about the weather when taking them out for a run.

Price

The Mizuno Wave Rider 21’s are typically sold for 120 dollars but we’ve seen them go on sale for as long as 67 dollars! With the quality and longevity of the shoe, anything below 100 is a great bargain. Yet, even with their standard price tag, the Rider 21’s are a great investment for the quality of what your getting. They will definitely last you a while without breaking down. Running is an fantastic sport and there really isn’t a whole lot of gear needed for it, so why not invest a few extra dollars in a pair of shoes that you know will last a while and keep your body safe and healthy?

Drop

The Waver Rider 21’s have an 18mm forefoot height and standard 12mm heel-to-toe drop which places the shoe in the neutral design category. These are great for runners who prefer to lead their stride heel first to then roll onto the ball of their foot and spring forward. Furthermore, neutral running shoes are protective for those who tend to roll the edges of their feet outward during their stride. The distance between the runners foot and the ground, coupled with Mizuno’s shock resistant technology, gives the runner a sweet-spot of cushioning and responsivity.

Key Features

Mizuno’s supportive and shock-dispersing wave plate technology

High-density foam for durability and solid cushioning

Cushioning that is very responsive to impact

Breathable mesh that adapts to your feet

Spacious toe box and midsole

Bottom Line

The Mizuno Wave Rider 21’s have mostly great reviews and for their price tag, they are definitely worth checking out. Many people swear by the comfort of this shoe, especially those who have experienced some injury or who are heavier runners. This shoe is engineered with super protective technology and will certainly help to keep you safe from the dangers of high impact on your bones and joints with their shock dissipating features. They are a responsive, lightweight, and comfortable shoe that will continue to perform long after you’ve invested in them. Unlike other running shoes, these don’t suffer the faults of feeling too internally narrow or rigged against the feet. They adapt to your movements immediately and have a very soft instep feel leaving room for your toes to splay. Those who use them said that they were great for daily training, but perhaps a bit too firm for really long distance marathons. To some, they also felt a bit awkward and clunky with all their support. The Rider 21’s are super breathable which is superb for hot weather, but not so great for colder climates and might need to be supplemented with a thinker sock. Other than a few minor discrepancies, these shoes are definitely top of the line while still being affordable. The Wave Rider 21’s are a great option to rotate into your daily running.