Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 delivers a consistent, stable ride with a softer touch than ever before.
Mizuno updated its popular Inspire for 2021 by refreshing the look, tweaking the signature Wave Plate and adding a new foam. The softer foam, called Mizuno Enerzy, lends the Inspire a cushy landing and bouncy response.
Fleet Feet runners tested the Wave Inspire 17 to see how it fits and how the new foam feels underfoot. Here’s what they thought of the latest from Mizuno.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
9.2 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)
Consistent, Comfortable Fit
From model to model, Mizuno maintains a comfortable and familiar fit, and the Wave Inspire 17 is no exception.
The latest Inspire dons either a conventional mesh upper or a knit upper, depending on your preference. The mesh is soft and light, which adds a plushness to the overall fit. Alongside a lightly padded tongue and cushioned heel collar, the shoe offers even more comfort.
Testers say the knit upper also feels comfortable and secure, but it feels a little bit roomier in the toe box than the mesh option.
One of the most consistent things about Mizuno running shoes is the secure fit. An internal bootie creates a snug midfoot feel, and a rigid internal heel counter helps lock your foot into place so it doesn’t shift or rub.
“I have a slightly more rectangular shaped foot, and the Inspire fits me really well,” one reviewer says. “My heel stays put, and more forefoot has plenty of room.”
Reviewers also say the Inspire fits true to length.
The flat laces hold well, and they’re long enough to give you some slack if you need to lace your running shoes differently.
The bottom line is simple: The Wave Inspire 17 fits and feels like a traditional running shoe. It’s an experience that most experienced runners will find familiar and most new runners will appreciate.
New Foam for a New Ride
Many popular running shoes are using softer foams now than they used to, and Mizuno is keeping with the trend.
Like in Mizuno’s other models, the wedge of Enerzy foam in the heel of the Inspire 17 lends the shoe a softer touch and bouncier response. The placement gives it a more cushioned feel on landing, and it helps the shoe roll smoothly into the forefoot transition.
“I love that the Inspire 17 gives me the stability that I need without feeling overly stiff,” one reviewer says. “It feels flexible in the forefoot but I still feel supported.”
Mizuno switched to its proven U4ic foam for the midsole under the forefoot, which is a little firmer than the Enerzy in the heel. That firmer forefoot creates a stable, responsive platform that really works for one reviewer.
“The firmer forefoot makes the Inspire feel a little more nimble than softer foams,” one reviewer says. “I like the snappier response, especially in a stability shoe.”
The main stability feature in the Inspire is Mizuno’s Wave Plate. You can see the fan-shaped plate embedded into the heel. On the lateral side of the shoe, the plate has a gentle S-shaped wave to it. On the medial side (the inside), the plate is burlier, with a stair-step kind of shape.
Like most traditional stability running shoes, the plate works to mitigate the effects of overpronation. Runners who overpronate put more stress on the inside of their shoes, which can wear it down prematurely and lead to an uneven ride over time.
The plate is stiffer and more durable than the surrounding midsole foam, so it compresses less under your weight. That extra durability helps the midsole wear evenly, giving you a more stable ride throughout the life of the shoe.
Adding a plastic plate might sound cumbersome, but testers say you only notice the stable ride.
“I don’t notice the Wave Plate is there,” one reviewer says. “The Inspire definitely feels stable, but running in it feels smooth and easy. The Wave Plate is just an added bonus for anyone who pronates excessively.”
Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 vs. Wave Inspire 17
The basic design and silhouette of the Wave Inspire 17 is the same as the previous model, but Mizuno made some small changes that give it a refreshed look.
Designers updated the shape of the Wave Plate embedded in the midsole. The new plate delivers the same performance as the plate in the Wave Inspire 16, but it looks a little different. The new model swaps more rectangular waves for the curves on the outgoing version.
Mizuno changed a few overlays here and there, but the upper looks very similar.
One big change to the shoe is the outsole. Mizuno used two separate pads of foam and rubber: a broad forefoot and a horseshoe of foam around the heel. But the outsole on the Inspire 17 is connected from heel to toe with a center channel to help keep your foot in the middle of the shoe.
The rubber outsole is also entirely new. Designers used rows of shallow lugs under the forefoot of the Inspire 17 rather than the flatter, wider shapes beneath the previous model.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is a comfortable and capable stability shoe that’s engineered for a softer underfoot feel than its predecessors.
Mizuno swapped its new Enerzy foam into the heel to give you more cushion when you land and a smoother transition onto your forefoot, and they covered the shoe in a soft mesh upper for all-day comfort.
With the classic, secure Mizuno fit and reliable stability, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is a quality update to the long-running Inspire line.
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