Mizuno has received some criticism in the past for changing the crowd favorite Wave Rider platform from what was a fairly stripped down neutral shoe, into something much more substantial.
Right out of the box I could tell that Mizuno listened to its hardcore fans, tuning the Wave Rider 18 into a lightweight, responsive, high mileage machine.
Mizuno Wave Rider 18 General Info:
The Wave Rider line is the longest running line of any shoe on the market since its inception in 1998. For most runners, this is their first introduction to Mizuno’s wave technology which provides firm but responsive heel cushioning and a smooth transition.
This neutral shoe manages to provide a great deal of road protection in a fairly lightweight package.
Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Sole:
Mizuno returns to using its wave plate technology, rather than Pebax it has used for heel cushioning in the last several versions.
This could account for the slightly heavier shoe (8.6oz vs 9.0 oz) in the Wave Rider 18, but the effect is worth the added weight.
The transition of this shoe from heel to toe-off is one of the best in the business, and I’ve always found that the Wave Rider really appeals to heel strikers who are looking for a firm but responsive ride.
The durometer of the midsole material in the forefoot remains very firm, and for runners who land mid-foot or forefoot the plush heel cushioning doesn’t really get utilized appropriately and simply feels stiff and bulky.
A non-marking carbon rubber sole is both durable and tacky, and Mizuno didn’t make many changes here. Despite flex grooves in the sole, the Wave Rider 18 remains one of the least flexible 9 oz trainers on the market.
Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Upper Info:
The majority of the changes in this shoe came from the upper, and Mizuno employs a simple two piece upper creates an “adaptable fit”.
What this means is that the mesh feels like it has some give to it, and larger volume feet or runners with wider forefeet will like the fit of this shoe.
In this department Mizuno seems to really nail it over the past several years, and the Wave Rider 18 is likely the best fitting version yet.
A nicely padded heel collar and tongue, flexible and well ventilated dual mesh, and very few overlays make this a great trainer for warm weather running.
Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Conclusions:
Wave Rider zealots are going to love this shoe. In my opinion, Mizuno has created the best Wave Rider yet, and they should quit while they’re ahead. The problem in my opinion is that this shoe does not appeal to anyone but heel strikers.
The very firm underfoot feel combined with the lack of forefoot cushioning due to high durometer midsole foam make this a shoe made for heel to toe transitions rather than mid-foot running.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Rider 18 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.