Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gear Review: Mizuno Wave Precision 12

When I tested the Mizuno Wave Rider 15, I found myself unconsciously making a list of characteristics I wished the Rider had. I would be running and thinking, "Wow, I'd really like this shoe if it had this, and this, and this," hoping that the next iteration of the Rider would take on at least some of those features. Then I tried the Mizuno Wave Precision 12, and I realized that there was no need for me to make a list of what I hoped to see in the Rider 16. My list had pretty much described the existing Precision.

The Mizuno Wave Precision 12 is Mizuno's neutral performance trainer. The Precision weighs in at 9.6oz for a men's size 9 and 8.0oz for a women's size 8 and has an H-delt of 12mm. Running Warehouse describes the Precision as such:
The Precision 12 is a moderate feature, moderate neutral shoe designed for speedwork, racing and daily training. It is built with a semi-curved shape.
  • Mizuno Wave consists of an elastic, thermal plastic wave running from the heel to the midfoot, creating an incredibly springy and well-cushioned ride.
  • AP+ is Mizuno's top of the line full-length copolymer midsole for a lighter, more resilient ride.
  • Smooth Ride is a gender specific network of grooves that minimizes the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the foot to create a smooth heel to toe ride.
  • Extended Wave Plate in the midfoot is an extension of the Mizuno Wave for increased torsional rigidity between the heel and forefoot.
  • AIRmesh covers the entire upper and provides breathability to keep the foot cool.
  • OrthoLite Sockliner is anti-microbial and moisture wicking for a healthy foot environment.
  • Dynamotion Fit creates optimal fit with stretch material in the forefoot and a collar construction that prevents the heel collar from buckling under load.
  • X10 located in the heel and forefoot is made of durable carbon rubber for enhanced traction.

The Mizuno Wave Precision has a fantastic upper

The Precision is built off of a universal, semi-curved last and has a slightly sprung toe. The first thing I noticed when I put on the Precision is the upper. The upper is amazing. If there's one thing I have to give Mizuno, it's that they do a great job with their uppers, at least in the shoes that I've worn. The upper of the Precision feels like a slipper. It's a little roomier through the midfoot and forefoot than both the Mizuno Wave Ronin 4 and the Rider (As a performance trainer, I'd expect it to be roomier than the Ronin, but having a wider toebox than the Rider was an unexpected and welcome surprise), but it isn't roomy to the point of being baggy or sloppy either. The heel cup is also nice, and hugs my foot a little nicer than that of the Ronin (my one complaint about that shoe). The upper seems to breathe just fine too.

Wave plate of the Mizuno Wave Precision.

The responsiveness on the Precision is great for a performance trainer. You hit the ground, and you get a really quick response from the midsole. I'm not sure whether this response is from the Wave plate or the AP+ midsole material, but it's certainly there. The Wave plate is a little deeper than that of the Ronin, but much smaller and less obtrusive than that of the Rider. This shoe puts the "performance" in "performance trainer." However, this responsiveness does come at a price, and that's the fact that the cushioning is super firm. I've heard a few people call this shoe "soft," and granted, it's soft if you compare it to the Ronin, and it's soft if you're doing track intervals or racing half-marathons in it, but those people must be more efficient than me or something, because I found it a little unforgiving to use on recovery days (but then again, a performance trainer isn't really an easy day shoe, it's just that the Brooks Launch is soft and structured enough that I've been using that for easy days too). As far as performance trainers go, this shoe feels fast, so if you're looking for a trainer that prioritizes speed over forgiveness, the Precision should be on your shortlist. Again, it's no flat, not by any stretch of the imagination, but as far as trainers go, the Precision feels pretty fast. The Precision also has a nice, smooth ride and quick transition. I didn't find the ride quite as fast or as seamless as that of the Ronin, but I probably shouldn't be comparing flats and trainers anyway.

The Mizuno Wave Precision has plenty of forefoot flexibility
The Mizuno Wave Precision's Wave plate does not interfere with torsional flexibility

The Precision is a pretty flexible shoe, as I'd expect for a neutral performance trainer. The forefoot is very flexible, and torsionally, it's probably similar to the Brooks PureFlow, since the Wave plate is cut at an angle such that it doesn't limit flexibility the way it does in the Rider. One difference between the Precision and the other shoes that I'm wearing is that it has a smooth flex throughout the entire forefoot as opposed to flexing mainly at the flex grooves. It has flex grooves, it just doesn't seem to flex more at those points than at places without the flex grooves. Most people probably won't notice a difference, but someone who finds the joints of their feet not matching up nicely with the flex grooves may appreciate this feature. It does not have the Flex Controllers that the Rider and Ronin have if that is a concern.

Heel counter of Mizuno Wave Precision

The Precision has a fairly stiff heel counter to provide some rearfoot support. However, as far as support goes, you're not going to find a whole lot. Slightly more than most flats, but less than many other neutral trainers. Heelstrikers who mildly overpronate very early may get a little bit of support from the Wave plate (which is pretty stiff, but is also only in the very rear of the shoe), but forefoot strikers, midfoot strikers, and late overpronators will find a mostly neutral ride, with only a small amount of inherent support coming from a fairly flexible midsole and mostly unstuctured upper. In general, overpronators may be happier in the Precision's lighter and more supportive cousin, the Mizuno Wave Elixir 7. Alternately, overpronators could try putting an over the counter orthotic in the Precision (not something I had thought of myself, but a fellow runner informed me that this combo works well for him). Additionally, the Precision has very little arch support. On a whole, I found it slightly less stable/more neutral (however you'd like to put it) than the Launch through the mid and forefoot.

The Precision's balance feels a little off, and it feels slightly back-heavy. It's a minor gripe, but it is noticeable after running in them for a while.

No real data on durability yet, other than it seems to be wearing at the same rate as my other trainers.

Sole of Mizuno Wave Precision. You can see the angle at which the Wave plate is cut, as well as the horseshoe shaped heel

Like other Mizuno shoes, the Precision has the horseshoe shaped heel and a groove in which rocks can potentially get lodged. The Precision's is a little deeper than that of the Ronin, and I get rocks in there more often than I do with the Ronin, but most of them end up not sticking out of the shoe so I can just wait until I'm done running to take them out.

The Precision is a responsive performance trainer that prioritizes speed over forgiveness. For the neutral, biomechanically efficient runner looking for a fast-feeling every day trainer, this shoe is a dream come true. It's also a good choice for someone who prefers a performance trainer over a flat for tempo runs and long races, and could also be considered for someone who is used to a regular trainer but for whatever reason wants to step down to a "less shoe" trainer that is lighter, more flexible, and less supportive. The back-heaviness is a little bit of an issue, but not a deal breaker. Will it replace the Launch as my every day trainer? Nope, sometimes I need that soft, forgiving cushion. Will they make my rotation for when I want something faster than the Launch, and will I buy another pair when these wear out? Absolutely.

The Mizuno Wave Precision 12 retails for $110 and is available on Mizuno's website, as well as at many running stores that carry Mizuno products, like the National Running Center. I've found that it runs true to size, and I wear the same size in the Precision as I wear in other Mizuno products (as well as the same size I wear in most of my Brooks too).

Full disclosure: I have received the Precision free of charge in exchange for a review as part of a feedback program Mizuno and Mizuno guy Seth Hasty are running. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Mizuno or anyone else.


  1. Great review!

    One question - forefoot cushion. Which has more - Rider 15 or Precision 12?

  2. That is a good question. The Rider has been shelved since I've gotten the Precision...let me take them out today and get back to you!

  3. Thanks for the great review! I'm on my third pair of Precisions, love them! I especially love the blue ones with the cherry blossoms!!

  4. I'm going to go with the Precision is a touch softer than the Rider through the forefoot. I'm not sure which shoe actually has *more* cushion though, since despite the Precision being softer, it also has a little more groundfeel, and I'm not sure whether to attribute that to the fact that it's softer or if there's also less underfoot (I'm guessing a little of both).

    Jessica, the cherry blossom graphic is awesome! I'm kind of sad they got rid of it on this model haha. Luckily, they kept the slipper-like upper!

  5. Found your blog after searching around for avg mileage before retirement on Ghost 3's.

    Anyway, I have the Precision 11's and I find them fairly unyielding. I have about 160 miles on mine, used mostly for tempos and intervals, and it seems to be getting yet more hard-feeling. Maybe it's a matter of preference and that I've run too many miles in the cushy shoes (Ghosts, Ravennas, and Kinvaras), but the Precisions feel like they has very little give.

    But I agree - the upper design is excellent. Love the way Mizuno's look but the more I use them the more I just want to give up and retire them (which is a shame since 160 miles is super early).

  6. I agree, pretty much all of the Brooks shoes are much softer. I would have liked to make them my every day trainer, but they're a little too firm for that for me. The firmness is nice on days I want to go faster but don't want a flat though. As I stated in my review, I think it's just a matter of biomechanics and being efficient enough to run in that firm of a shoe all the time.

  7. Thank you for your review. I have been a big fan of ASIcs and still have them for daily training. I did my first marathon in 2010 (4:32) on them. Recently I got Mizuno ronin 3 (because they were on sale) and did my first NYC half (1:41:37). It was great. However, I will not use it for daily training because of lack of cushine. I seems this is the good choice. I will go to local store an try it. Wear Asics feel like driving Lexus, and Mizuno is more like a BMW!

  8. Love the Ronin. I won't use it for daily training either, but it's a great fast shoe. Nice job at New York!

  9. I always enjoy reading your reviews. I've been running in the Precision 12 for almost a year now and just added a second pair into my rotation. I love everything about it - a just-right balance of cushioning and firmness, the slipper-like fit and the responsiveness. Regarding durability, I think I'm going to wear out the outsole before anything else, because the rides of my first pair (~300 miles) and the new pair feel the same. FWIW, I'm not fast by any stretch; probably a mid-packer at best. Just a 60-year-old, 5'8", 160-lb old fart who likes to go out for a 5 to 10-mile run.

  10. Glad you found a pair of shoes you like! And I agree, they do seem to be very durable...no complaints there.

  11. Hi Becki, thanks for the great review. I tried the Precision 12, my first pair, after reading your review. I've been a Rider fan for years but haven't been happy with the last couple of versions. I've been wearing the Precisions for about a month now and so far so good. I've been rotating them with my Rider 15 which I bought a couple of months ago. After this pair, I may just stick with the Precisions.

  12. Glad to hear you like them, Kim! I much prefer the Precision to the Riders too. The new Rider 16 is supposedly going to be a return to the 13 and drops some weight, if you're interested.

  13. Just like Kim I've always bought the Wave rider. Tried on # 14 but felt for the first time the seams. Salesman advised me to try on the Wave precision. I was sold. These shoes are indeed great! Purchased a second pair, but i am very disappointed about the durability of the precision. The mesh is terrible! After 2 months holes appeared in the mesh of both pairs. Looked like the shoes were moth eaten. Informed Mizuno about this wear. They never had a complaint about the mesh, but I was told precision # 13 will have another stronger mesh. In my opinion a very strange reaction. Anyway I don't want to lose my money on the precision again. I have returned to wave rider. Bought a few weeks ago #15.

  14. The new Precision uses a different upper, but I haven't tried it yet. The Rider 15 is significantly different than the 14 due to complaints about the 14.

  15. I agree that the Precision is built off of a universal, semi-curved last and has a slightly sprung toe.if you are getting flashed from things getting in the way of your arc, set the sensitivity as high as you can without the helmet darkening from the lighting in the shop, and set the delay to mid range or just turn it on if that is the only option on your helmet.


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