The Cumulus 18 has the same pillowy, soft ride as the 17, but with a tighter fit in the toebox.
At first glance, beyond subtle aesthetics, it’s hard to distinguish the differences between the Cumulus 18 and 17. Upon closer examination, there are two minor changes. On the medial outsole, the Trusstic piece (midfoot shank) is not as long. It starts in the same place behind the ball of the foot, but it does not extend as far back rearward. The other change are the overlays on the toebox. The 18 has no overlays on top of the toebox, and the toe cap overlay is bonded on instead of being stitched in place. Other than cosmetic changes to material patterns and lines, the are no other changes. So, let’s see how the shoes compare in fit and ride.
As expected, the fit in the midfoot (medium) and heel (snug) between the 18 and 17 is the same. An unexpected change comes with less room in the toebox of the 18. One would think the removal of overlays would create a more roomy experience. However, the fit is slightly narrower across the breadth of the toebox. A more noticeable change is the shallower fit at the front of the toebox. The bonded toe cap has resulted in less height at the tip of the shoe, particularly above the big toe. While the length is unchanged, some runners will need to go up a half size to create their desired feel above their toes. If you typically wear a thicker sock, a thinner sock can also help create more space above the toes.
The ride of the shoes feels the same. The Cumulus 18 is the softest feeling traditional, neutral running shoe currently in the market at a $120 price point (softer than the adidas Supernova Glide 8, Brooks Ghost 9, Nike Pegasus 33, Saucony Ride 9). It has a great sense of comfort underfoot. It’s not the type of shoe that disappears, but rather has an ever-present cushioned feel. Thus, it’s not a fast-feeling shoe, but it is great for racking up the miles.