by Chris McClung
Mizuno’s Wave Rider has been a favorite of runners since its first version. The shoe has a firm but smooth ride with a forgiving upper that keeps your foot in place while still fitting a wide variety of feet. Version 15 of the shoe was its best iteration yet, until Mizuno topped itself with this latest iteration. Version 16 has the same midsole and outsole that everyone loves (from Version 15), but the shoe now has an all-new upper that weighs a full ounce lighter than the previous version. The shoe dipped under 10 ounces, which puts it on par with many lightweight shoes that have much less cushioning. By using new materials and making small changes such as reducing the size of the logo on the in-step, Mizuno dropped the weight of the shoe without compromising the cushioning or feel of the shoe under foot. And, if you can cut a full ounce from each step without changing anything else, why wouldn’t you?!?
The Launch has been the best-kept secret in specialty running since its introduction three years ago. It was so good, in fact, that Brooks made only color changes to the original design until they famously announced that it was being dropped from its line, with plans to end production in December of 2012. With the announcement, message boards and blogs exploded in uproar as many Launch lovers (read: fanatics) screamed for its return. Brooks finally heard their cries, announcing in December that the Launch would return with throwback colors this month.
The shoe is elegant in its simplicity. Its midsole is void of many of the “technologies” that mark the signature designs of other more-marketed shoes, but the simplicity is what makes it great. It is lightweight at only 9.1 ounces, but with a cushioned feel that can support any type of runner. And, the ride is so smooth that your heel to toe transition in this shoe makes your stride nearly effortless at any pace. Long live the Launch!
The Boost just debuted in February and, with it, Adidas is getting more attention in the running shoe category than it has in a decade. The signature component of this shoe is a newly designed midsole material that, according to lab tests from independent sources, has the most energy return of any midsole material ever placed in a shoe. The material is also reported to be highly durable and resistant to the effects of temperature that can wreak havoc on traditional foams, making it a great pick to combat the Texas heat. Putting it on, the shoe has a plush step-in feel, and when running, it can only be described as abnormally bouncy. The bounce feels strange at first but, after the initial shock-value fades, makes you feel like you can run forever in it. The upper is snug, flexible and fits a wider variety of feet than most other Adidas models with a more-narrow fit. Also, look out for two additional versions of the shoe coming later this year, the AdiStar Boost and Adios Boost, debuting in August and October, respectively.
The New Balance 1400, like the Brooks Launch, is known for its elegant simplicity, with a pure-foam midsole and no added bells and whistles. The shoe debuted last year to rave reviews. At 7.1 ounces, it is considered a “marathon racing shoe,” but the level of cushioning in the shoe feels more like 9-10 ounces, thanks to its innovative RevLite foam from New Balance that weighs 33% less than traditional foams. The high cushioning-to-weight ratio makes it extremely versatile to be used as a training shoe by some or as a racing flat by others. In June, New Balance will release a version of this shoe with a new competition-style upper that is also used in their super-light track spikes. This twist will drop another ounce from the shoe with no change to how the shoe feels under foot, permanently re-defining what it means to have lightweight cushioning. This, my friends, is not your father’s New Balance.
In July, Mizuno is dropping the popular Wave Precision from its line, the original lightweight trainer, and replacing it with the all-new Wave Sayonara. Though the decision seems like a big gamble, it is a calculated risk forced in part by the changes to the Wave Rider mentioned above. With the Wave Rider now at 9.9 ounces, the Wave Precision was too similar at 9.5 ounces, so Mizuno is giving it an overhaul with a new name in the Sayonara. At Rogue, we can’t wait. Though we have not been able to try it yet, the Sayonara is reported to be over an ounce lighter than the Precision, with a more responsive ride and faster feel, all while maintaining similar levels of cushioning. If the fit is as good as the current Precision, which has the best-fitting upper on the wall, then these changes could be a recipe for our new favorite shoe. Hello to the Sayonara, good-bye to your running group friends after you lace on these new shoes this summer!