At a Glance
- Weight: 9.0 oz. (Men’s Size 9.0) & 7.7 oz. (Women’s size 8.0)
- 12mm heel-toe offset: 27mm heel, 15mm forefoot
- Lightweight neutral daily trainer
- A snug heel and midfoot fit similar to Wave Rider 16
- Responsive platform provides efficient energy return
The Mizuno Wave Rider 18 generates a firm and fast feel that will hold up to high mileage training while offering one of the lightest options in its class.
The Triumphant Return
Wave Rider enthusiasts have been through a constant stage of change over the last 5 generations of the model’s evolution. In an attempt to make a unique shoe more widely accepted across the industry, Mizuno has altered materials, changed designs and ultimately stepped away from what truly made the Wave Rider successful: firm with a race-like fit. Models 12 through 17 hardly seemed cohesive as each model took a stab at something new, leaving loyalists wondering what was coming out next. That was until the 18th version was unveiled. In a return to glory, the Wave Rider 18 feels much more like its early ancestors, touting a firm underfoot feel, quick heel-to-toe transition and an extremely light and breathable upper.
Out of the box, the Mizuno Rider 18 fits snug through the heel and midfoot. A snug feel that is complimented by an accommodating forefoot. Compared to the previous model, the Wave Rider 18 provides a more plush fit across the instep, due to a slightly thicker tongue. Additionally, the Rider 18’s laces are shorter than we are accustomed to and runners who prefer a double knot and/or have a higher instep may need to look into alternative lacing as the Rider 18 has a slightly shallow fit across the instep.
During the run, the Rider 18’s secure heel cup and stitched lateral overlays keep narrow heels in place, while the mesh on the forefoot allowed for runners with a wider foot to remain comfortable in the shoe. The shallow fit seemed to enhance the “fast” feel of the Rider 18 on the road. Making it feel more akin to an uptempo-training shoe. There was no uncomfortable bunching of upper materials, a problem some runners reported in the Wave Rider 17. We believe this is due to Mizuno’s return to a two-piece upper in the Rider 18, from the single piece in the Rider 17.
The Wave Rider 18 fits true to size and is available in wide for men and women. Additionally, for women, the Rider 18 will be available in a narrow. In the medium width shoe, the snug heel and midfoot provided an adaptive fit for slightly slender feet without sacrificing space for a somewhat wider foot.
A firm step-in feel is paired with a medium to high presence through the arch. Additionally, the initial firm impression was complemented by the light weight feel of the shoe. Compared to the Rider 17, the 18 has a firmer underfoot feel that was particularly noticeable through the heel and midfoot. The firmer ride did not affect the shock attenuation of the Rider 18, which may be attributed to Mizuno’s return to using Pebax material for the wave plate. The shoe has good propulsion through toe-off while providing excellent impact protection, making the Rider 18 best suited for runners looking for a “snappy” performance impression in a daily trainer.
The performance feel of the Rider 18 is accentuated by a 15mm forefoot stack height, which provides a large amount of ground feel during toe-off. The Rider 18 contrasts a low-to-the-ground forefoot with a 27mm heel. The thick heel provides cushioning for heel strikers and transitions smoothly to the forefoot. However, a runner with a natural forefoot/midfoot strike finds they tend to land further back toward the heel than in shoes with a lower heel-toe offset.
Stands Out In The Crowd
As a neutral shoe designed for daily training, the Wave Rider 18 competes with shoes like the ASICS Cumulus 16, Brooks Ghost 7 and Nike Pegasus 31. However, all of these shoes deliver a softer ride and slower feel than the Rider 18. As such, the Rider 18 stands out as a unique option, delivering a go-fast, firm feel for runners who prefer to feel the ground.