I was able to get my hands on the new Rider before it hit our shelves and took it through its paces.
After over 160 km of wear and tear, here’s everything you need to know about the new Rider and why you might consider it as your next daily trainer.
The Japanese sporting label known for its innovative Wave Plate Technology has been a staple in running specialty shops since their introduction of the Wave Rider in ’98. Heralded as a sleeker, lightweight and responsive alternative to the soft and bulky ‘Air’ or ‘Gel’ trainers of the time — the Rider’s popularity carved Mizuno a niche into a market that still ripples today.
For years the company has relied on its Wave Plate Technology for differentiation, a plastic strip that stretches out upon impact and propels the runner forward as it returns to its regular waved shape. However, in an era defined by thicker and softer midsoles thanks to lighter innovations in foam, companies like Mizuno, have adopted new innovations to compete. So what does the next generation of Wave Riders look like?
The biggest and most noticeable update to the Wave Rider 26 is the shear amount of midsole.
Whereas previous iterations of the Rider were trending lighter, sleeker and peppier, the new version adds a bit more midsole bulk all the while not losing its beloved Mizuno structure and ride.
To be exact, Mizuno adds 17% more Enerzy foam increasing the overall stack height by 2mm. Sandwiched between that soft, responsive Enerzy foam is your trusty Wave Plate Technology that preserves the iconic Mizuno structure and propulsion. In addition to the increased volume of foam, Mizuno strategically adds more Enerzy to the rear crash pad, pushing the Wave Plate a little further forward and adding a slight flair to the heel for added stability. The new geometry and shift of the wave plate softens the overall feel of the shoe without compromising its iconic ‘pop’.
While some things change, some features remain the same.
The Rider 26 still retains its 12mm drop and I found the overall fit similar to the Rider 25. The seamless upper gets slight alterations but still feels as plush and luxurious as it did on the Rider 25. I found the engineered mesh upper gives it an ‘expensive’ feel hugging your foot with minimal overlays and providing lots of breathability. This is still your reliable, balanced, responsive Rider of the past, just with a little more hearty feel.
Don’t get tide down.
Mizuno fans are loyal. Few shoe companies command such a faithful fan base like Mizuno and I believe that speaks volumes to the unique feel and ride developed by the Wave Plate Technology. That said, for those diehards weary of the new version being too much a departure from its past, I don’t think you should worry. The new updates do a phenomenal job of amplifying what fans of the Rider have grown to love while helping improve its comfort and performance.
I found recent versions of the Rider too minimal in the forefoot and that’s something the new version does a fantastic job addressing. You still get that familiar responsive Rider feel just with a little more substance and shock absorption beneath your foot. In addition, I found the increased stack height and heel flair gave the shoe a bit more stability when compared to previous versions. Skeptics will say it’ll feel heavier than the previous version, but I would argue that the long-term cushioning effects will far outweigh the couple ounces gained during your run.
Over my wear testing period, I was impressed with the durability of the Rider. I’m typically quite hard on my shoes and sometimes over 160 km you start to see a few blemishes here and there in the midsole. But the Rider 26 held up really well. I think the added foam coupled with the Wave Plate gives it a lot more robustness than competitor models.
The Mizuno Wave Rider seems to only get better with age.
This is still your reliable go-to neutral daily trainer ready more than ever to conquer your everyday mileage. Individuals who love other neutral trainers like the New Balance 880, Brooks Ghost or ASICS Cumulus should really consider giving the new Rider a try. I found the Rider 26 combines elements of each with added structure and pop through the arch. If you’re someone looking for a versatile every day running shoe, I’d highly suggest giving the new Mizuno Wave Rider 26 a go.