Mizuno Wave Rider 28 Review: Ride the ENERZY Wave

The Mizuno Wave Rider 28.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

The Mizuno Wave Rider has long been a staple amongst our review team. It was one of the first shoes I wore when I was getting started running (hand-me-downs from my older sister, of course), and Mandy has been running in the shoe since getting fit at Fleet Feet Greensboro in 2011.

Admittedly, I’ve moved away from the Wave Rider in recent years as I’ve discovered that I prefer softer, more flexible shoes. While the Wave Rider is a neutral trainer, I’ve always found it stiffer and firmer than others in its class. However, this is one of the reasons why Kate and Mandy love them.

All three of us have different preferences when it comes to running shoes, and you’ll get to hear from each reviewer about their thoughts on the new and, dare I say improved, Mizuno Wave Rider 28:

  • Caroline, who prefers soft, squishy shoes her feet can sink into.
  • Kate, who enjoys lightweight, responsive shoes that aren’t too soft.
  • Mandy, who enjoys bouncy shoes with a moderate amount of cushioning–no giant slabs of foam underfoot, thank you very much.

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Tech Specs

Mizuno Wave Rider 28

Weight 8.3 oz (W), 9.7 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 38.5 mm/26.5 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 12 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $140
Comparable to... On Cloudflow 4, Brooks Ghost 16

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

What’s new

  • Jacquard mesh upper replaces the air mesh upper used in the Wave Rider 27.
  • The upper and sockliner are made with 90% recycled materials.
  • Mizuno’s new ENERZY NXT foam has been added to the Mizuno ENERZY foam from last year, creating a smoother ride.
  • An additional half-millimeter of stack height underfoot.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 28 uses ENERZY NXT foam.

Mizuno Wave Rider 28: Fit & materials

Caroline

I’ve always loved the fit of Mizuno shoes. I have low-volume feet, meaning my feet don’t take up a lot of room within the shoe, and I find Mizuno shoes to be built just right for me. The heel and midfoot offer a locked down fit that contours my feet perfectly. The toe box is tapered out a bit, but nothing too drastic. I don’t like my toes feeling lost in a sea of shoe space.

The breathable jacquard mesh upper feels really flexible on foot while still providing the structure needed to feel secure. The Wave Rider 28 has a moderate amount of padding in the heel and tongue, just enough to remain comfortable as a daily trainer without weighing me down. The shoe offers double eyelets on each side of the ankle to tie the marathon loop, but I found I didn’t need to. I felt perfectly secure in the shoe as is.

I really enjoyed the sharp blue and white colorway, too (white / mugan blue, to be exact). It reminds me of the Mizuno Neo Vista that launched this month and the Wave Neo Ultra from several years ago.

Kate

While the latest version of the Wave Rider has some tweaks and improvements, it stays true to its roots as a classic daily trainer. The heel collar is nicely padded and so is the tongue. There isn’t anything fancy here, but it’s a quality shoe and I think that Mizuno loyalists will be happy that the boat has not been rocked. The fit for me is true to size. The toebox is just roomy enough and everything else feels pretty dialed in.

Mandy

There is something about putting on a comfortable, familiar pair of shoes that just brings me happiness and the Mizuno Wave Rider is exactly that. I have been running in Mizuno shoes since I got fitted at Fleet Feet in 2011 and there is just something about their shoes that works for me.

I always love Mizuno’s uppers—they look sharp and feel amazing. The jacquard mesh feels smooth and comfortable on my feet and breathes incredibly well. I helped out at my daughter’s Swim for Cancer car wash for 5 hours and my feet felt amazing the entire time. They drained incredibly well and I should know because, when you give a 6-year-old a hose, everyone gets wet. I would happily run in these shoes during those summer storms. My feet also didn’t feel hot during my walks and runs, despite our ridiculously hot and humid Southern summers.

Mizuno Wave Rider 28: Ride & performance

The Mizuno Wave Rider 28.

Caroline

The Mizuno Wave Rider 28 has a new midsole compound that combines the Mizuno Enerzy foam from the previous version with a new Enerzy NXT compound. Mizuno claims the addition of Enerzy NXT foam offers a lighter and softer ride than previous models. With that said, I was excited to try these out. I’ve never truly loved the Wave Rider because I always found it a bit too firm for my tastes. I enjoy softer, flexible options and the previous Wave Riders just didn't fit the bill.

I took these shoes on a 7-mile test run. It was the morning after watching the Panthers win The Stanley Cup (!!!), so I definitely snoozed for longer than I should have and paid for it dearly with the scorching hot sun beating down on me during the last couple of miles.

My initial step-in experience was one of disappointment. The shoes still had that same stiff feeling as the old model. However, after about a mile and a half, I started to find my groove. They say that modern technology allows shoes not to need a break-in period anymore, but I’ve found that some foams feel best after a few miles. I started to feel my stride turning over more naturally and my landings felt softer. I think the PEBAX® plate embedded in the midsole cushioning really brings this shoe to the next level. The last few miles of my run ended up being quite a bit faster than the first few miles, which wasn’t the game plan.

Kate

My first run in the Wave Rider was a 9.5-mile run on vacation at the beach. I stayed on the road–I don’t like mushiness in my shoes or my run surface–and enjoyed my jaunt in these. After testing some squishy models with super high stack heights, a “normal” shoe felt pretty refreshing, to be honest.

I enjoy getting a good sense of feedback from the road in the Wave Rider. It gives me a grounded feeling. All of that said, however, my feet were feeling a little bit of the impact by the end of the run. I guess I’ve gotten used to the feeling of more cushion and it’s definitely a tradeoff between good ground feedback and extra cushion to absorb impact.

Mandy

Running in the Wave Rider just felt familiar and comfortable. I’ve been working my way back from injury and illness, and I really didn’t want to go for a run in the 90-plus-degree heat, but knowing that I got to wear these shoes helped get me out the door. The cushion combined with the signature Wave Plate offers a ride that is simply smooth. It’s not too cushioned, not too bouncy—it lets me stay in control of the run as opposed to the shoe propelling me forward.

The Mizuno Wave Rider 28.

Who is the Mizuno Wave Rider 28 best for?

Caroline

This is a good shoe for runners who like a bit of stiffness instead of pure softness. A lot of runners, like Kate and Mandy, prefer that as they feel it creates more energy return. With this being a daily trainer (and priced as such), it’s cool that it offers a PEBAX® plate embedded in the midsole. This definitely elevates the running experience.

Kate

I’d recommend the Wave Rider 28 to anyone who likes a traditional style trainer with a moderately firm feel. I think this is an ideal everyday trainer. It’s not super speedy for fast workouts and you might want more cushion for your longest runs, but for everyday running it will be a dependable, durable companion.

Mandy

The Mizuno Wave Rider is a great daily trainer for someone who is looking for a versatile shoe. While they aren’t super shoes, nor ridiculously cushioned or plated, they are a fantastic all-around sneaker that will do whatever you need them to—run, gym work, HIIT classes or chasing your kids around.

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