Friday, February 07, 2020

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16: 125 Mile Review

Article by John Tribbia

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 ($135)

John: I have a long history with Mizuno, dating back to the early models of the Wave Alchemy. What I have always loved about Mizuno shoes is the firm, yet responsive ride, even in those older “motion control” models. Based on my research about the Inspire, the 16 has the same underfoot cushioning as previous models and continues to offer plenty of stability for moderate over pronators. New to this model is an improved midfoot lockdown , which to me seems like it is most evident in the heel security, and some weight savings mostly through a more efficiently designed upper. When I put these on out of the box, I noticed the firm footbed and soft engineered mesh upper. The shoe feels responsive and relatively light despite a thick and built up midsole/heel cushion.

From Mizuno: The Wave Inspire 16 gives you an unbelievably quick and stable ride . Impact-absorbing midsole and SmoothRide Support Wave technology bring an ideal balance of cushion and lightness to every step, along with a smooth transition. An all-new upper features engineered mesh for a soft, breathable fit, with internal toe cap for a sleeker look-and-feel. Take your daily runs to the next level with the ultimate in performance and comfort.

MSRP:  $135
Weight: 10.1 oz (Size US 9M)
Stack Height: 32mm / 20mm (12mm drop)
Available: Now

Pros: Bouncy, flat laces, comfortable upper, smooth and stable ride, well structured heel security
Cons: even with engineered mesh upper I envision durability issues with the upper.

Tester Profile
John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.

First Impressions and Fit
John: When I put these on, I noticed the bounce in the forefoot and smooth transition from heel-to-toe. In addition, even though the initial feel of the cushion is hard, the Wave technology provides a soft and plush ride when in action. I went for a quick run around the block. Overall, I noticed very secure fit in the heel and across the midfoot laces. I don’t feel like it is an overly heavy shoe and they are really stable too. The Inspire fits true to size. It is barely roomy enough in the toe box though and the perfect length. On initial lace-up I felt light pressure on the sides of the widest part of my forefoot. It is overall non-abrasive on the inside, comfortable, with great foothold.

The forefoot is slightly snug, but overall the shoe is true to size and comfortable

John: The upper is engineered mesh with very few overlays. It has a very modern look, feel, and has a conservative black colorway. For added structure in the upper, there is a reinforced Mizuno logo in the midfoot and a taped overlay atop the lace eyelets for extra cinching ability when tightening the laces.

Engineered mesh with minimal overlays provides a comfortable feel

John: The Wave Inspire midsole screams stability! The 16 has a very stable feel because of the firm U4ic foam and the traditional Mizuno Wave Plate. Based on my research, this foam+plate one-two punch is what makes the previous models really durable. As I have put ~125 miles on these so far, I expect this same durability in the 16 because I continue to feel like the shoe is freshly firm and not a mess of degraded softness. The Wave Plate technology also provides better structure for overpronators and this is especially noticeable in the late miles of my long runs where my form breaks and muscles get tired. Instead of slogging home, the support from the Wave Plate as well as its ability to absorb shock helps maintain the roll and bounce so that my pace is maintained. 
Wave Plate provides excellent stability and control

John: There is a lot of rubber on the outsole, specifically in the heel. The outsole uses X10 rubber that covers the front part of the toe, midfoot, and curls over heel; it is only broken apart by the flex grooves in the forefoot and the Wave Plate in the midfoot. This obviously adds to the shoe’s weight, but gives it additional traction support, softness, and durability. 
Rubber curls up on heel

Flex grooves and Wave Plate break up rubber on outsole

For a shoe touted as pronation control, the ride is smooth, fast, and stable. Not to mention, I find this carries over to both fast or slower paces. Despite the 10.1 oz weight, the Inspire 16 feels fast through the transition without being harsh or clunky when running at a quick pace. The heel is definitely bulky with added rubber and provides a firm, cushioned, and very stable ride. Perfect for heel strikers. Even if you aren’t a heel striker, the Inspire 16 has solid control upon forefoot plant, but not in the way where you are restricted to a specific footpath. It has a nimble feel that, like I mention above, yields a quick and bouncy transition for a midfoot striker.

Conclusions and Recommendations
John: If you are looking for an everyday road trainer that is comfortable, can mitigate over pronation issues, and has the versatility for all types of paces, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 is perfect. The shoe has a comfortable upper, feels secure when running at varied paces, provides a smooth and stable ride, and requires very little break-in out of the box. 
John’s Score: 8.7 /10
Ride: 9 (fun shoe with stable and smooth ride)
Fit: 9 (a little tight in the forefoot)
Value: 9 (I think ~400 to 500 miles seems possible with the sturdy outsole and engineered mesh upper)
Style: 8.5 (I love the all black) 
Traction: 8 (solid and well built rubber outsole)
Weight: 8 (not a lightweight trainer by any means, but bouncy ride nonetheless)

Comparisons   Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance 1080v10  (RTR Review)
John: The 1080 is a softer feeling shoe with a similar stable ride, but the firmness, bounce, and engineered mesh upper is what gives the Inspire a slight edge in my opinion.

Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)
John: the Triumph has a much bulkier but plush upper and a very cushioned ride that performs well at varied paces. With minimal weight differences, the distinguishing differences come down to a preference for soft (Saucony) or firm (Mizuno) feeling underfoot.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit
Mizuno is adding a Waveknit version of the Inspire 16 to their fleet. The Waveknit has the same outsole and midsole technologies as the non-Waveknit version, but the upper is Mizuno’s knit material as opposed to the engineered mesh. This is the same upper construct that Mizuno used for the Wave Sky Waveknit 3 and the Wave Rider Waveknit 3. The Waveknit upper provides a soft and stretchy feel. And, the only design difference between the Waveknit upper in the non-Waveknit upper is the lacing pattern. 
In the engineered mesh upper, the second-from-the-top lace hole is positioned farther down the side of the shoe, presumably to provide a more secure fit. 

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The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the author's.
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