Consistency is key with the new Mizuno Wave Rider 23, but that doesn’t mean it stayed the same.
The newest Wave Rider keeps the same responsive ride and laid back fit that made it famous, but it was due for a refresh. So Mizuno overhauled the look this year to give it a fresh, modern aesthetic and slimmed down the upper for a more streamlined feel.
Even with the clean look, though, Mizuno didn’t change the shoe’s performance.
We laced up the Wave Rider 23 to see what the new shoe has to offer. We put it through our normal workouts to check the fit, the ride and how it carries on the Wave Rider name. Here’s what we found.
Mizuno Wave Rider 23
8.3 oz, women’s; 9.6 oz, men’s
Last year, Fleet Feet runners tested the Wave Rider 22. In the Mizuno Wave Rider 22 review, testers said the shoe gave them a smooth heel-to-toe transition and felt really durable. The same is true this year.
But compare the Wave Rider 22 and the Wave Rider 23 side by side, and you’ll notice several differences.
First, the 23 has a cleaner overall look than the 22. Both shoes use two layers of engineered mesh for the upper, but the new one really shows it off. Gone are the stitched-on external reinforcements on the toe and around the eyelets, and there’s no more bulky ankle collar.
Instead, Mizuno hid the toe reinforcement underneath the mesh, so it still provides more durability and structure than mesh alone, but it doesn’t mess with the simple silhouette of the forefoot. Designers still reinforced the eyelets, but this year’s shoe uses a printed overlay that lies flat against the mesh.
The ankle collar also saw a big change—for the better. The Wave Rider 22’s collar bulged out from the rest of the upper, which looked like extra padding around the outside of the ankle. But the Wave Rider 23 doesn’t have that padding, which gives the shoe a sleek look from toe to heel.
The 23’s stock laces are flatter than on the previous version, which again trims back excess bulk, and the perforations on the mesh are more uniform than last year.
But that’s where the changes end. Mizuno kept the same midsole—including the same foam compositions and look—and they sandwiched the same classic Wave Plate into the cushioning.
The changes between the two Wave Riders aren’t as drastic as what Mizuno did to the cushy Wave Sky Waveknit 3, but they do breathe new life into a classic running shoe.
With the big redesign, the Wave Rider 23 looks better than ever, but it still boasts an accommodating fit.
The two-layered engineered mesh upper strikes the right balance of stretch and structure—even a Fleet Feet runner with wider feet likes how the regular-width sizing fits (although the Wave Rider 23 does come in wide widths for runners who need more room).
Designers also sewed in a lightly padded tongue. The tongue isn’t connected to an internal bootie or stretchy supports to keep it from moving around like some other shoes, but our testers didn’t have any problem with the tongue migrating out of position.
The heel cup really locks in the fit, though. The 23’s internal heel counter provides quality structure that holds your heel in place. One tester with an average-width heel says it’s exactly how he wants a shoe to fit.
“I never felt my heel moving in the shoe,” he says. “I didn’t have to fuss with the lacing or size to get the right fit.”
If you’re a fan of the Wave Rider 22, you’ll love the Wave Rider 23.
All of the differences between the two shoes are contained in the upper—the midsole, cushioning and outsole didn’t change, so neither did the ride.
Mizuno kept the same combination of midsole foams to create the Wave Rider’s signature underfoot feel: U4ic and U4icX. Mizuno says the U4ic foam reduces shock and adds durability, and the U4icX is lighter and more cushioned for a softer step.
The U4ic runs the full length of the shoe, while designers packed the cushier U4icX only under the heel, so you get a soft landing coupled with a firm transition and takeoff. One Fleet Feet runner prefers firmer cushion on running shoes, so he says the Wave Rider 23 is ideal for him.
“The foam is firmer than other full-cushioned shoes I’ve worn, which is a good thing for me,” he says. “The shoe doesn’t feel mushy, and it didn’t take me any time to adjust to the firm ride. It just feels natural.”
The Wave Rider’s heel-to-toe drop is 12 mm, which is on par with many popular running shoes on the market today. The drop is good for heel strikers—as is the bigger heel cushion and Wave Plate—so if you land heel-first, the Wave Rider 23 will give you good protection and a smooth transition onto your toe.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is a consistent, reliable running shoe that will stand up to hundreds of miles on the road.
Fleet Feet testers like the firm ride and secure fit of the newest Wave Rider. But the biggest praise came for the redesigned upper that gives the shoe a less clunky, more modern look.
We think the Wave Rider 23 is a great running shoe for neutral runners and heel strikers who need a shoe that will get them comfortably through their training cycle.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.