REVIEW: Mizuno Wave Sayonara 3

Mizuno Wave Sayonara 3
Mizuno has two main “medium-weight” trainers in the neutral category: The Sayonara and the Rider. Both have very similar stack and weight but differ quite distinctly in terms of feel. While the Wave Rider (currently in its 18th version) is designed to provide a cushioned ride and handle the bulk of one’s daily miles, the Wave Sayonara is designed for uptempo work, to provide that responsive feel in a durable package that is perhaps somewhat lacking in their lightweight trainer, the Wave Hitogami.

The Sayonara 3 is the first Mizuno shoe I’ve tried. There are updates to the Sayonara 3 from version 2 and I will highlight them here but I have not personally tried version 2, so I can’t give a feel comparison. However, I have put some miles in the Sayonara 3, covering medium distance easy runs, and some faster tempo workouts to get an idea of how best to use this shoe. That said, let’s delve into it.

My Sayonara 3 in size US9.5 comes in at 260g, which is about what you would expect for a daily trainer and slightly on the heavy side for uptempo work. By way of comparison, an ASICS SkysensorGlide 2 weighs about 270g in my size.


UPPER

The upper is the key update to the Sayonara 3 from version 2. Mizuno continues to improve on this aspect of the shoe following feedback that version 1 was overly snug, and version 2 was roomier but did not breathe very well. Version 3 now sports what Mizuno called AIRMesh in the rear of the shoe that purports to enhance breathability, while the front is open mesh that has very good air penetration and reminds me somewhat of the Brooks Launch and the UnderArmour Speedform Gemini. That said, the AIRmesh that extends from the midfoot to the heel is inelastic and provides a relatively rigid and secure lock-down of the foot.

In terms of fit, I would still rate this as a low-medium volume shoe, not so much because it has a narrow footprint, but because the vertical volume of the shoe is on the low side, compared to e.g. Nike and Adidas. I did have to loosen up the lacing a fair bit to get a comfortable fit, as I have low arches but generally prefer the overall fit of a D width shoe. The shoe does otherwise fit true to size. The heel-counter is on the rigid side and extends pretty high in this shoe, so you definitely notice the support; it is also sports a relatively narrow heel so heel slippage should not be a problem for most people. Personally, I prefer less structured heels but this one wasn’t noticeable once you got up to speed. There is sufficient padding in the heel collar and tongue for its intended purpose as a daily-use shoe that I did not notice any hot spots or rubbing on the seams. The general appearance of the shoe is less futuristic than version 2, but definitely improved on the breathability of the upper.

MIDSOLE

There were no to the midsole from version 2. There is still a generous amount of compression-moulded EVA (Mizuno coins this U4ic – pronounced “euphoric”) extending the entire length of the shoe. This responsive and bouncy foam is also seen in the Wave Hitogami. The Thermoplastic wave plate that distinguishes Mizuno shoes is present from the heel to the midfoot, providing support and aiding in the transition of the foot from heel to forefoot. If you liked the bounce of the previous two versions of the Sayonara, then you should find familiarity here. By way of comparison, I find U4ic to feel closest to the SpEVA foam from ASICS; overall it is a good balance of cushioning and rebound, and is very well suited for uptempo running.



OUTSOLE

The outsole is where you see some subtle differences from version 2. Firstly, the blown rubber segment extending from the heel across the lateral border of the midfoot to join the forefoot has been removed, leaving that feel segment as exposed wave bridge. I suspect it was done partly to shave weight, and partly to get a little more flexibility in the shoe between the heel and the midfoot.
Another big change is the move from polyurethane grippers on the medial forefoot to blown rubber, which the heel and lateral forefoot continue to sport Mizuno’s carbon rubber compound (called X10). My prior experiences with full length blown rubber (e.g. in the ASICS Skysensor Japan, or the New Balance Zante) gave me the impression that it makes for a very rigid shoe. Rigidity can be a good thing, allowing for very fast transitions during the footstrike, but here, Mizuno’s horizontal and longitudinal network of grooves in the forefoot allow the shoe to flex in selective zones that appear to correspond to the locations of the tarso-metatarsal joints and the metatarso-phalangeal joints in the foot. This creates a soft feel in the forefoot, and should in theory allow the foot to flex and extend naturally throughout the stride cycle.

I have not used the Sayonara 2 before, so I cannot say what the Sayonara 3 is sacrificing in terms of grip in the forefoot by going with blown rubber over polyurethane, but as an uptempo trainer rather than a racing shoe, I have not found the forefoot grip to be lacking during my runs. I am confident, though, that the slight weight gain in the Sayonara 3 is likely a result of going with blown rubber over polyurethane, not that it should matter so much for a trainer. I weighed this shoe at 260g for a US9.5, which is perfectly reasonable for an uptempo trainer. That is a similar weight to the Boston Boost, and still significantly lighter than a Nike Zoom Elite or a Brooks Launch.

OVERALL RIDE

This shoe felt like a very traditional daily trainer from the outset. The heel is firm and gives a very secure, sure-footed landing feel, while the midfoot and forefoot have a little bit of give and softness. The shoe felt a little stiff and unforgiving at first, but after a couple of runs to break in the shoe, it started to get a little more flexible from the heel through the midfoot, and the U4ic midsole also got a little softer and bouncier, and felt very comfortable at tempo paces. The overall feel is that of a shoe on the firmer end of the spectrum, similar to a Brooks Launch or a Nike Zoom Elite. The shoe performs best at tempo paces, which is what it is designed for. When I tried to do slower, longer runs in the shoe, I did find that the firmness of the heel did beat me up a little. You definitely want to maintain a high turnover in this shoe to fully appreciate the smooth ride.

In retrospect, there seems to be a subtle move by the industry as a whole towards this firm heel-soft forefoot philosophy. Off the top of my head, the NB FreshFoam Zante and Nike Zoom Elite also use this approach, and both have achieved good success, especially the Zante.

If you like softer race shoes like the Adios Boost, or the Nike Lunartempo, then this shoe probably would not be a good choice for you, as you would probably find the heel to be excessively firm, regardless of the pace. If on the other hand, you like responsive race shoes like the ASICS DS Racer or Sortie, Adidas Takumi Sen/Ren, Nike Lunarspider R-series etc, this would be a very good daily trainer for you.

It’s actually pretty useful for speed work as well, but you do feel the weight a little once you get to your usual 5-10k race pace, as the majority of the shoe’s weight is centred at the heel. For speed work and short races, I think the Hitogami would probably be a better option. The Sayonara might be a race day shoe if you like the feel of the Hitogami for racing, but find that the Hitogami offers too little cushioning over long races like the marathon. 

Overall durability is not bad. After about 200km in these shoes, there appears to be essentially zero wear on the heel and only light wear primarily on the forefoot blown rubber platform. I expect the outsole to last at least another 400km. The midsole U4ic compound does exhibit the usual creases in the forefoot/midfoot, though i have not noticed any degradation of ride quality yet.




Personally, i tend to prefer shoes with an overall softer feel as the majority of my runs are not done at fast paces, so this shoe would not work for me as a daily trainer. However, as a go-to shoe for faster tempo work, this would definitely fit the bill.

The shoe is currently available from most World of Sports outlets in Singapore.



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