THE RUNDOWN: The Mizuno Waveknit R2 brings a light cushion to your everyday run, while packing a punch for heel-strikers.

Surface: Road    Pronation: Neutral   Stack Height: Medium

There’s no denying the appeal of a running shoe with a knit upper; they’re super comfortable. But this trendy construction has its drawbacks, with some knit uppers fitting so close they rub your foot raw and others stretching so much that they offer no support. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but the Mizuno Waveknit R2 comes pretty close to getting it just right. It provides a snug but flexible fit right out of the box, and while the upper does stretch initially, it maintains its structure. That, plus the cushy midsole and overall light weight, makes the Waveknit R2 a solid everyday trainer.

The Specs

Weight: 8.6 oz. (W), 10.2 oz. (M)

Offset: 12mm

Midsole: U4ic midsole with Cloudwave technology, U4icX Strobel, Podular U4icX Midsole in the crash pad

Outsole: X10 carbon rubber (heel), SmoothRide blown rubber (mid- and forefoot)

Upper: Waveknit

Price: $130

mizuno waveknit r2
Photo Credit: Christine DiGangi

100 Miles In: The Review

My first impressions of the Mizuno Waveknit R2s were that they had a cool design and ran small. But the initial, snug fit can be deceiving. The upper noticeably stretched out after I had logged 15 miles in the shoes, so they pretty quickly felt true to size. After that initial adjustment period, the upper mostly kept its fit. By mile 50, the shoes felt slightly looser, and the structure stayed constant from miles 50 to 100.

The toe box is the roomiest and most flexible part of the shoe, but not disproportionately so. I found it extremely comfortable (and pleasantly breathable) in multiple double-digit runs, the longest of which lasted 12 miles. The sockliner really is sock-like and wraps around the topline, making the Waveknit R2 a good match with any sock length. A stiff and supportive heel counter provides a necessary balance to all the softness throughout the rest of the shoe’s construction.

The shoe tries to achieve a soft and supportive ride with its multi-component midsole. The cushion is definitely there, though the foam in the forefoot settled a bit after the first 20 miles. The heel is really where things get fancy. A wave plate separates the U4ic midsole and U4icX midsole, which together provide spring, support and shock-absorption—all without weighing you down. The  lightness of the shoe surprised me, given the hefty heel (there’s a 12mm drop).

mizuno waveknit r2
Photo Credit: Christine DiGangi

There’s The Rub

All that technology in the heel is really nice—if you’re a heel striker. If you’re not, the crash pad is showy with little substance, but at least it’s light. If you do come down on your heel, you’ll experience a responsive shoe, though the mid- and forefoot provide more cushion than catapult, leaving more to be desired. And beyond what’s going on in the heel, the shoe offers minimal support.

The comfortable knit upper, soft midsole and light overall weight makes the shoe an enjoyable road ride, but speed sessions and varied terrain call for a different pair. The all-around flexibility makes them a sketchy choice for trails, and it doesn’t bring much to short, powerful efforts. I was, however, very pleased with how it felt during run commutes. The grippy outsole combined with the shoe’s minimal weight brought some fluidity to the irregular stride that accompanies running through a crowded city.

The upper is trendy not only in how Mizuno fabricated it, but also in its design. All six colorways sport a chevron pattern, some with very bright colors. Its distinct look is the kind that will have a lot of lovers, a lot of haters and few in between.

TL;DR

At $130 a pair, the Mizuno Waveknit R2 is more style than substance. That being said, the shoes are very comfortable and light—two features no runner should overlook. They held up well over our 100-mile test, making them worth considering if you’re in the market for a reliable road shoe, particularly if you’re a heel-striker.