Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Review
Cons: Too stiff for high mileage comfort
Our Analysis and Test Results
We hope you're ready to have the ride of your life. Once on your feet, the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 will leave you breathless and unable to slow yourself down. It is propulsive, comfortable, and overall a fun shoe to log your miles. Start your engine and join us for this wild ride.
You might have already heard, or even experienced the propulsive and seemingly energy saving ride of the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 for yourself. Similar to the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3, the Rider is very unique among the rest of the shoes we tested in that their responsiveness is in its own league. So, what's the magic sauce Mizuno uses to make this shoe insanely responsive and so much better than the rest? Mizuno utilizes their Wave Plate Technology in this road shoe, which is the world's first mechanical midsole that spurred from the idea of how nature's waves disperse energy (sound waves, tidal waves). Having a very flexible forefoot and stiff midfoot to heel allows it to feel just as fast as the Saucony Kinvara 6 even though they are about 1.5 ounces heavier. We notice the springy pop that the Wave Rider has always been known for.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 18 doesn't provide the level of landing comfort we look for to score among the highest in this metric. We don't get the full ground contact or balanced cushioning like we do in the Brooks Ghost 8. The rigid, stiff ride isn't as comfortable as many of the other road shoes in the group, though this plays a significant role in how Mizuno creates the propulsive feeling in this shoe. When logging miles on longer runs we notice the comfort decrease after eight to ten miles.
We rate the upper comfort of the Wave Rider 18 as the second highest behind the Asics Gel Kayano 21. It has a narrow and secure fit throughout the heel and midfoot that really locks our feet in perfectly. Mizuno claims that this shoe feels like "part of your foot," and we completely agree. We aren't generally fans of a rigid heel counter, though Mizuno pulls it off in this shoe. The way it's designed to lock your heel in place actually gives it an energy saving feel and the added security that's so important in a road shoe with the goal to be fast. We prefer this much more than the loose heel area of the Altra Torin 2.0 and Skechers GoRun Ultra 2. The Ortholite SockLiner through the heel area as well as under the tongue is high quality and super plush.
Other than the moderately sized logos across the mesh, there's not much else happening on the upper of the Wave Rider 18 to prevent it from having solid breathability. Many other uppers of shoes we tested, particularly the Asics Gel-Kayano 21, come loaded with flair that we notice affecting the breathability. Mizuno uses AirMesh that has a very thin, soft mesh inner and a more rough, dispersed outer layer that naturally helps provide quality breathability on the Wave Rider 18.
It's surprising to us that even with a rigid heel counter and plastic wave plate through the midsole of the heel, the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 is still among one of the lightest shoes in our group. At 9.2 ounces it falls a mere 1.4 ounces behind the lightest shoe in our group, our Top Pick award winner the Saucony Kinvara 6.
The Wave Rider 18 earns an average score in our durability metric. Compared to higher rated shoes like the Brooks Ghost 8, it lacks the seam welded or stitched reinforcements on the upper, which makes the upper durability questionable. For the outsole, there are five independent rubber pads. The larger segment on the outside of the heel, being a high wear area, uses Mizuno's X10 Carbon rubber which is super durable and extra thick. The rest of the outsole is composed of thin blown rubber which is softer and more comfortable, though feels like it can easily become removed from the midsole foam.
Take this road shoe out for your faster paced runs when you want that pep in your step.
When considering the wonderfully fun ride, glove-like fit, and quality sockliner, we feel the Mizuno Wave Rider is quite reasonably priced at $119.
Though this shoe doesn't come away with any of our awards, don't let that deter you from taking it for a test run. We thoroughly enjoy the highly responsive ride and sock-like upper fit. We also feel it is the snazziest running shoe around.
— Jimmy Elam