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Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Inspire 16

A person running in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 shoes

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 has been a reliable workhorse for more than a decade, and the new model is no exception.

One of the most popular stability running shoes around, Mizuno kept the classic ride but updated the look for a more modern style. This year, Mizuno also added an option for a Waveknit upper for a sock-like fit and feel.

Even with the aesthetic updates, though, the Inspire delivers the same smooth ride and premium durability that runners expect from the long-running line.

Fleet Feet testers laced up the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 and the Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit to see how they compare to each other and how they hold up to the Inspire we’ve come to know and love. Here’s what they thought.

Tech specs

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16

Price

$135

Weight

8.5 oz (women’s), 10.1 oz (men’s)

Drop

12 mm

Category

Stability

Use

Everyday trainer

Surface

Road, track

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Fit and Materials

A runner wearing the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 bends down to tie his shoes

The Wave Inspire 16 this year gets an updated look but maintains the same sturdy construction as previous versions.

Mizuno gave the Inspire 16 a sleek engineered mesh upper with very few overlays to interrupt the modern look and feel. For added structure, designers used a reinforced Mizuno logo in the midfoot and taped a burlier overlay on the top lace hole for extra security when you cinch down the laces.

Designers also built a well-structured heel cup into the Inspire that locks your foot into place and provides quality structure to the shoe.

The outsole uses rugged X10 rubber—and a lot of it. Rubber covers the toe, midfoot and heel, only partitioned by two flex grooves in the forefoot and the Wave Plate in the midfoot. One tester says he appreciates the extra rubber for its traction and durability.

“It feels substantial,” he says. “I’m not going to run my fastest sprints in the Inspire, but they feel like they’ll hold up for the long haul, which is perfect for most of my running.”

Flat laces weave through six standard lace holes to sew up the shoe. Mizuno also added a seventh lace hole to the top of the Inspire to let runners dial in the fit.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Ride and Performance

A runner wearing the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 stretches before a run

The Wave Inspire was originally designed for moderate overpronators, and the newest iteration sticks to stability.

The 16 feels incredibly stable thanks to the firm U4ic foam and Mizuno’s classic Wave Plate. The foam-plate combination made previous versions of the shoe really durable. Testers haven’t put hundreds of miles on the Wave Inspire 16 yet, but they expect the durability to transfer to the new model as well.

“What I have experienced is it really makes the shoe durable,” one tester says. “Sometimes when you buy a really soft running shoe you can feel when it’s done. With Mizuno shoes, they really hold that first feel much longer into the life of the shoe.”

Like other forms of stability technology, the Wave Plate improves the structure on the medial side (instep) of the shoe to counteract the effects of overpronation. The Wave Plate sandwiched between layers of midsole foam is visible on the outside of the shoe, and it’s easy to see the larger waves and longer length on the instep.

The extra structure on the medial side resists the excess wear that overpronators put on that part of the shoe, which helps increase its lifespan.

“If you’ve worn Mizuno before, a good thing to note is it still has that tried and true midsole and Wave Plate,” one tester says.

But it’s not just about stability: Mizuno says the Wave Plate also helps absorb impact by spreading it out across the plate. Dispersing the impact provides softer landings and smoother transitions.

One of our testers says he couldn’t pick out the individual technologies working on their own—they just make for a smooth ride.

“There’s a lot of technology packed into the shoe, but it all adds up to a firm and stable ride,” he says.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 15 vs Wave Inspire 16

A side-by-side comparison of the Mizuno Wave Inspire 15 and Wave Inspire 16

Mizuno didn’t change much when it updated the classic Wave Inspire, but a few tweaks lightened the overall weight.

Both the outgoing model and the incoming Inspire 16 use a combination of Mizuno’s U4ic and U4icX foam compounds for a light, responsive ride.

Visually, the two shoes are very similar. Engineered mesh uppers provide a comfortable feel with just enough stretch, and the midsoles look identical right down to the curve of Mizuno’s signature Wave Plate.

One noticeable difference is the toe cap. The inspire 15 sports an external toe cap, which adds a touch of structure and improves the shoe’s durability. But designers moved to an internal toe cap on the Inspire 16, which gives the shoe a cleaner overall look without sacrificing structure or durability.

Mizuno also removed a few overlays to help reduce the Inspire 16’s weight. Both the women’s and men’s models of the shoe weigh .2 oz less than their previous versions, down to 8.5 oz and 10.1 oz, respectively.

Tech comparison

Wave Inspire 15

Wave Inspire 16

Weight

8.7 oz (W), 10.3 oz (M)

8.5 oz (W), 10.1 oz (M)

Midsole

U4ic, U4icX

U4ic, U4icX

Drop

12 mm

12 mm

Upper

Engineered mesh

Engineered mesh

Category

Stability

Stability

Two runners standing back to back while wearing the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 and Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit

Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit

In addition to updating the look of the new Inspire, Mizuno also added a Waveknit version to the lineup this year.

The Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit employs the same midsole tech as the non-Waveknit model, but it uses Mizuno’s knit upper material instead of engineered mesh. It’s the same type of upper that Mizuno used on the Wave Sky Waveknit 3 and the Wave Rider Waveknit 3.

The Waveknit upper gives the shoe a sleek silhouette and soft feel while maintaining enough stretch to mold to the unique shape of your foot.

There’s a slight difference between the laces in the two models, too. The engineered mesh version has an exaggerated lacing pattern over the midfoot. Designers positioned the second-from-the-top lace hole farther down the side of the shoe for a locked-in feel.

The Waveknit Inspire sticks with a more classic lacing structure—six holes up each side with a seventh to customize the fit, if necessary.

Fleet Feet runners who tried out both shoes felt the engineered mesh upper had a slightly roomier fit than the knit upper. For wider feet, only the engineered mesh upper comes in wide sizes.

Even with the different uppers, though, the shoes have the same smooth ride and weight.

Tech comparison

Wave Inspire 16

Wave Inspire 16 Waveknit

Upper

Engineered mesh

Waveknit

Weight

8.5 oz (W), 10.1 (M)

8.5 oz (W), 10.1 (M)

Drop

12 mm

12 mm

Midsole

U4ic, U4icX

U4ic, U4icX

Conclusion

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 is the same confident stability running shoe that it’s always been but with slight tweaks to the look.

Mizuno cleaned up the engineered mesh upper for a sleeker, more modern look, and they added a Waveknit version for another option. Fleet Feet testers praised the shoe’s firm ride and stable feel.

With another year of experience under its belt, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 remains the same classic trainer that we’ve come to rely on.

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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