I’ve always had an on-again-off-again relationship with Mizuno. I ran my first marathon in a pair of Renegade 4 (2009).
Five years later I went Mizuno-crazy looking for a fresh running start after bilateral inguinal hernia repair. I fell in love with the Precision 13. They had a Robin’s egg blue and Canary color way that I love to this day. (I still wear these shoes for knocking around town)
I then drifted to the Sayonara, which replaced the Precision in the liineup. I ran a good chunk of mileage in them, but also found them incredibly comfortable for walking around Walt Disney World for a week.
And later sampled the Hitogami, which was fine for short, fast runs, but I needed a lot more shoe. Still wear them around town.
(Note: with the exception of the Riders, I bought all the shoes pictured on this page. This is the first time Mizuno has responded to my many requests to sample their shoes. I’m thankful they did.)
That same year I took a chance on the Rider 17. While the Hitogami was not enough shoe for me, I loved and missed the Precision and wanted to try the Rider, the brand’s flagship shoe. I purchased the Rider 17 with the hopes that this would be my new go-to road shoe, replacing the Brooks Ghost, which Brooks engineered me out of.
Unfortunately the Rider iteration that I decided to start with was one of their worst received. To many Rider devotees the 17 was a bust. And they let Mizuno know about it, such that Mizuno itself made a public statement about the shoe and what they had changed from 17 to 18. For me, it felt as if my big toes were falling over the side of the shoe. At first I though the sock liner was crooked. Then I thought my sock was all out of sorts. Then I realized that the fit was just weird.
I took a couple of years off from the Rider, a little jaded by my 17 experience. But when the 20th anniversary of the Rider was relased to great reviews, I knew I had to give the shoe a second chance. And thanks to Mizuno for providing a review pair gratis. This Rider 20 is a whole new shoe, it feels like. Gone is the phantom “toe ledge” that I felt in the 17. The shoe is lighter and peppier. Walking around in the shoe feels cushier than running in it. Odd, but makes sense really. There’s enough cushion there with the wave plate to soften your footstrike so you don’t feel like a barefoot runner on pavement, but not so much that you feel like you are running on cotton balls. You could knock out a 20 miler in these shoes, or a few mile repeats on the track. It’s that versatile of a shoe. And I think thats why it is a beloved shoe among Rider devotees.
Aside from some new technical aspects (“Cloudwave technology” on the wave plate) the Rider claims a more durable midsole. And this was my biggest problem with the Rider 17 was that thee shoe seemed to “die” much earlier than a shoe of that quality and cost should. This model promises something different, and so far I’ve seen that difference. I have about 100 miles on the shoe already and very little wear has occurred. The funny thing about the Rider is that it feels like it is less of a shoe than it really is. And I think that’s the intent here.
A note about color. Mizuno has led the pack in terms of being unafraid to use bold colors for thsir shoes. When many companies were reverting to greys and blacks and white as base color for their shoes, Mizuno gave us orange, purple, green , Canaray yellow, Robin’s egg blue. I love that. Why shouldn’t we wear shoes that set us apart? Why do all running shoes have to follow the same pallette? What’s wrong with being bold?