The Mizuno Wave Rider has been a mainstay in the neutral running category for as long as I can remember. Seriously, the first Rider was introduced in 1998, and I didn't start running until '99. And I'd bet there are some young'uns reading this review who are actually younger than the Rider! In an industry that seems to have remarkably high shoe model turnover, for a shoe to last that long without being discontinued or replaced, it must be a fairly successful shoe. This holds especially true for Mizuno, who currently seems to be in the process of hacking down its line, with the Elixir and Precision being consolidated into the Sayonara, the Ronin and Musha being replaced by the Hitogami, and the Nirvana and Alchemy being discontinued in favor of the Paradox. That's not to say the Rider hasn't hit any stumbling blocks, with the original Rider being a bulky nightmare nicknamed the "Kiss boot," and even the relatively recent Rider 14 getting a lot of negative backlash from longtime Rider fans. After the Rider 14 debacle, Mizuno returned to more familiar territory with the Rider 15. Two iterations later, Mizuno hasn't strayed far from that formula, introducing a familiar, yet much lighter, Mizuno Wave Rider 17.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 is a neutral trainer from Mizuno. It weighs in at 8.8oz for a men's size 9 and 7.4oz for a women's size 8 (interestingly enough, that is well over half an ounce lighter than the Wave Precision, which was considered Mizuno's lightweight trainer last year at this time). Running Warehouse describes the Rider 17 as such:
The Rider 17 is a moderate feature, moderate neutral shoe designed for daily training and high mileage.CUSHIONING
- Mizuno Wave consists of an elastic, thermal plastic wave running from the heel to the midfoot, creating an incredibly springy and well-cushioned ride.
- SR Touch cushioning compound provides resiliency and rebound in the heel for shock absorption.MIDSOLE
- Smooth Ride is a gender specific network of grooves that minimizes the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the foot to create a smooth heel to toe ride.
- U4ic is a lightweight midsole that provides optimal shock absorption, durability and a resilient ride.
- Extended Wave Plate in the midfoot is an extension of the Mizuno Wave for increased torsional rigidity between the heel and forefoot.
- Mizuno Intercool ventilation system in the midsole inhibits humidity buildup to keep feet cool and dry.
- Gender Engineering utilizes gender-specific attributes such as a wider base in men’s shoes and additional flex grooves in women’s shoes.UPPER
- AIRmesh covers the entire upper and provides breathability to keep the foot cool.
- Printed Overlays on the medial and lateral sides help hold the foot in place.
- OrthoLite Sockliner is anti-microbial and moisture wicking for a healthy foot environment.
- Dynamotion Fit creates optimal fit with stretch material in the forefoot and a collar construction that prevents the heel collar from buckling under load.
- Strobel Last with the upper stitched to full length fabric for a comfortable underfoot feel.OUTSOLE
- X10 located in the heel is made of durable carbon rubber for enhanced traction.
- Blown rubber in the forefoot increases cushioning and responsiveness.
- Flex Controllers placed in high flex areas on the outsole act as miniature wave plates for increased flexibility and reduced weight.
The biggest difference between the Rider 17 and Rider 15 (I skipped the 16) is that the 17 is significantly lighter (over 2oz lighter!). I brought these to my parents' house for winter break, and my dad picked them up and asked me if they were a marathon flat. Now, while my dad does some running, he's no shoe geek, and while he does have a pair of Riders in his closet, it's an older pair and it's not like he'd recognize the 17 as Riders by looking at them. I told him they were a trainer (it's easier not to get into a shoe characteristic discussion with him), and he just shook his head, tossed the shoe from hand to hand, and said, "Wow, they're light!" At under 8.8oz for a men's 9, the Rider 17 has dipped into performance trainer weight, while still having the same ride and characteristics as previous versions had as a high-mileage, everyday trainer (that's not to say that you can't put in significant mileage in a performance trainer...simply marketing and projected durability). But seriously...it's now lighter than the Launch.
|The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 has less toe spring than the Rider 15 (Yes, I still have my 15s. They became my official shoe of walking around campus when my ancient pair of Ghost 3s disintegrated).|
The last of the Rider 17 has changed a bit from the Rider 15. It's still built on a semi-curved last, but the toe has less toe-spring to it, so the entire shoe lies flatter on the ground, and the forefoot seems to have opened up slightly. It still has a narrow toebox, but it's not as narrow as that of the Rider 15. The Rider 17's upper is nice. It utilizes printed overlays, which both decrease weight and reduce potential hot spots from fabric overlays. The Rider 17 also has a fairly stiff heel counter, similar to older iterations of the shoe.
|Mizuno Wave Rider 17 upper utilizes printed on overlays for weight-savings and reduced risk of hot spots.|
|Firm heel counter on the Mizuno Wave Rider 17|
The Rider 17's midsole is made up of its new U4ic rubber. This is the same rubber that's used on the previously reviewed Sayonara and Universe 5. U4ic is lighter than the AP+ that was used on previous Riders, and it's just as responsive. The Rider 17 has the same firm, responsive ride and fast transition as the Rider 15, just at a far lighter weight.
|Mizuno Wave Rider 17's Wave Plate doesn't extend as far forward as the Wave Plate on the Rider 15|
While the Rider 17 seems to have a shorter Wave Plate than the Rider 15 (it doesn't seem to extend as far into the midfoot), it's still a stiff shoe. This was my biggest issue with the Rider 15...it didn't have quite enough forefoot or torsional flexibility for me, and the Rider 17 is very similar in that respect. The lack of torsional flexibility isn't surprising, since the whole idea of the Wave Plate is to act like a piece of corrugated cardboard, allowing flexibility in one direction but limiting it in others. Therefore, most of the shoe's torsional flexibility occurs anterior to the Wave Plate. As far as forefoot flex, I had thought that maybe the Rider 15 lacked forefoot flexibility due to the Flex Controllers, but those are gone from the Rider 17 and the flexibility is similar, so it's not them.
|The Mizuno Wave Rider 17's forefoot flexibility is similar to that of the Rider 15 (and the pictures makes it look more flexible than it actually is, similar to the 15)|
|The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 doesn't have a ton of torsional flexibility, and what it does have all occurs in front of the Wave Plate|
The horseshoe shaped heel and rock-magnet hole is still present in the sole, but it's significantly smaller than that of the Rider 17. I haven't gotten any rocks stuck in there yet, knock on wood, but it's still there, so it's probably a matter of time. I mean it's not a huge deal, they take 2 seconds to dislodge, but it's a little bit of an annoyance.
|Mizuno Wave Rider 17 sole, showing the horseshoe-shaped heel|
I'm expecting the Rider 17 to be a durable shoe. I get more mileage out of Mizuno's shoes than most of my other shoes, which I'm assuming is at least in part due to the fact that the plastic Wave Plate doesn't really break down the same way that EVA does.
Road Runner Sports offered to let me post their video to my blog. Very useful if you want to see better angles of the shoe than my pictures are able to offer:
The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 is a love letter to Rider fans. It's the same quick, responsive, and firm ride that they've come to know and love, only in a far lighter package. What it won't do, however, is convert those who didn't like previous Riders. The Rider 17 is a Rider...a lighter, better Rider, but still a Rider. And why should it be any different? The Rider has a rabid fanbase, and the last time Mizuno strayed too far from the proven Rider formula (the Rider 14), Rider fans were pissed! There are a lot of Rider fans out there, as well as a lot of people who like firm neutral trainers that aren't super flexible. You know who you are, and this is Mizuno's love letter to you guys. For those who have worn the Rider in the past and weren't impressed with it, well, that's probably why Mizuno also makes the Sayonara (and Hitogami, and Inspire, etc).
The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 retails for $115 and is available on Mizuno's website, as well as at retailers where Mizuno running shoes are sold. It seems to fit true to size, though as always, it's a good idea to try them on before buying if possible.
Full disclosure: The Mizuno Wave Rider 17 was provided free of charge in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Mizuno or anyone else.
Now, for the part most of you have been waiting for, the giveaway! It's the beginning of the year and I'm sure many of you have made running or exercise-related resolutions. So, Mizuno is generously offering to hook up one lucky reader with a free pair of Riders to kick off 2014! Contest ends on Wednesday, 1/15/14 at midnight Eastern time, and is open to United States residents. To enter, use the form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway