Transitioning from the Wave Rider 17 to the 18

December 16, 2014 Posted By: Mizuno USA

At Mizuno, we tend to make small changes to our existing models, but occasionally those small changes give our runners big surprises. If there is one thing we’ve learned is that runners don’t like big surprises. That has never been more true than with our lightweight, neutral franchise shoe: The Wave Rider.

To be perfectly candid, the Wave Rider 17 was both a hit and miss. This shoe has been the mainstay of our line since 1997 and Rider loyalists have returned to it year after year for its smooth, light, unencumbered ride and glove-like fit.

We call it Rider magic.

Unfortunately, that magic was missing. Many runners who had never worn the Rider before loved it, but some of the runners who keep coming back to it, didn’t.

I spoke with one Rider fan who told me that running always takes so much energy, but Mizunos are the only shoes that give energy back to him. Especially when you get a couple of hours into a run and start to fatigue, you want energy returned and great shock attenuation that you get from our Wave, the Rider 17 didn’t do that quite as well as prior versions of it did.

The Wave plate on the Rider 17 was a bit softer. Instead of that snug, Mizuno fit which almost makes the shoe feel like it disappears on your feet when running, the Wave Rider 17 has a one-piece seamless upper. The result was the Rider 17 fit a bit differently that previous versions.

Needless to say, our Rider customers, who had been in the shoe for several years, let us know loud and clear that they didn’t like the changes. And they were right.

So our marching orders with the Wave Rider 18 was to return to (and improve) that harmonious feel our previous Riders had. Its construction process is similar to the Wave Rider 16 and we went back to many of the characteristics that had worked so well in the past.

The Wave Rider 18 isn’t a duplicate of the Wave Rider 16, but we looked very carefully at what people have loved about the Wave Rider experience and amplified that. More than anything, the Rider 18 is a shoe when you put it on, it hugs the foot and you never have to think twice about it. Once you get going, you tend to forget you’re even wearing a shoe.

To get into specifics, the toe spring in the forefoot of the 17 was too flat. The shoe wasn’t springy enough and its cushioning was too soft. The shoe itself also fit too long and the Rider simply wasn’t as durable as we wanted.

We aren’t making any excuses for it, but it was obvious we had to do much better with the Rider 18. Our customers demanded it—and we listened.

Did we ever.

For starters, we went back to the great toe spring from all the way back to the Rider 13 and 16 which our customers loved and we put it right back in the 18. Then, we firmed up the midsole to provide a better platform for a more efficient, smoother toeoff. The 18 definitely fits snugger through the arch area and the forefoot is shaped better and more comfortable by using softer upper materials.

For the Wave Rider 18 we added a bit more material to the outsole in the heel and forefoot so you get better wear and a better underfoot sensation.

The Wave Rider 18 weighs the same as the 17 did, but the ride is a vast improvement. All the changes we put into the 18 result in the ideal balance between toe spring, firmness and improved flexibility. We have returned this shoe to the same great experience as the Wave Rider 13 and 16, but with better materials and construction.

All of our wear testing and initial feedback from Wave Rider customers has shown that the 18 is snappier, fits better and is much more efficient. Simply put, the Wave Rider 18 has recaptured the magic of the Rider.

If you are a Rider fan who didn’t like the 17, I can tell you that we improved its fit and ride. The great thing about runners is that we’re a resilient bunch. Our customers tend to be very loyal to Mizuno and even if they didn’t like the Rider 17, most will give us another chance with the 18.

Personally, I thank them for their patience and I can say with assurance, the 18 will deliver all the elements that have made it such a great shoe for so many years.

The Wave Rider’s back.


Leave a Comment


April 15, 2015

Ask Mizuno Shoe Guy a Question

Have a running shoe question for the Mizuno Shoe Guy? Ask Bob “Wish” Wischnia!

read more