Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 General info:
Now almost a decade into production Mizuno unleashes a smartly revised update to the Wave Inspire series. Mizuno is still targeting the runner who needs additional foot support with the Wave Inspire 9.
As Mizuno’s most popular support shoe, the designers surely know that the previous formula of the Wave Inspire 8 was a smart move and one that resonated with many runners. As such, it’s always a good idea to implement primarily minor changes to a shoe that was already really well designed. Indeed, Mizuno plays it smart as the midsole and outsole are almost identical carryovers from the Wave Inspire 8 and the focus is obviously on the upper and fit aspects of the Wave Inspire 9.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 First impression:
Last year I criticized the Wave Inspire 8 for looking rather bland. I’m not going to say that Mizuno took my advice but they certainly did send me a very loud colorway for the Wave Inspire 9. This shoe arrived in a very San Diego Charger fashion outfitted in electric yellow, black and a very nice tropical blue.
I normally dislike blue and yellow shoes as I’m an Oakland Raiders fan but I must admit that I do like this color combination. Apart from the visual experience, the Wave Inspire 9 feels much the same with just a few exceptions: the toe box is slightly narrower and the mid foot is a bit more form fitting. Additionally, the entire shoe seems just a little shallower than before. The underfoot feel remains unchanged from the Wave Inspire 8.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 Sole unit:
Mizuno wisely decided to transpose the midsole from the Wave Inspire 8 to the Wave Inspire 9. I was, and remain, a fan of that particular midsole and wave plate combination. Speaking of wave plates, which are the most unique and iconic design facet of a Mizuno shoe, the plate in the Wave Inspire 9 remains firmly targeted at the over pronating foot. An over pronating foot is one that rolls to the medial, or inside, portion of the foot and places extra work on the big toe and arch.
Runners with flexible arches or flat feet may fall into this category and can suffer from plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and other overuse injuries. Mizuno incorporates plastic plates that are fitted into the midsole of a shoe and are tuned for different runners needs.
The Wave Inspire 9 plate features a dual fan shaped wave that aims to correct over pronation earlier in the gait cycle than many traditional medial posts. The Wave Inspire 9 plate begins near the heel and travels through the arch of the shoe leaving the forefoot open for greater flexibility.
In fact, the only changes I see in the Wave Inspire 9 sole is the replacement of the VS-1 cushioning wedge in the heel. Mizuno is now using a compound called SR Touch and it looks virtually identical to the previous VS-1 formula. I certainly could not tell any difference in the feel of the shoe. Still in place is Mizuno’s AP+ midsole foam and Smooth Ride flex controllers.
The Smooth Ride flex controllers allow for more midsole foam to be cut away and still retain some responsiveness in the forefoot of the shoe. The outsole remains intact as well with Mizuno still offering gender specific outsole configurations featuring blown rubber up front and Mizuno’s X-10 high durability carbon rubber in the heel.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 Upper:
The upper of the Wave Inspire 9 is obviously where Mizuno concentrated their efforts on this update. Almost every overlay has been removed or repositioned and while this still looks like an Inspire, it’s definitely a stripped down, essentials only update.
The medial overlay is quite reminiscent of the style used way back with the Wave Inspire 5 as it sits farther forward on the shoe and frames a mesh window designed for breathability. Laterally, the overlays are located father back towards the heel with an oversized Runbird logo doubling as identification and supportive overlay.
Mizuno has now placed the eyelet row lacing pattern a bit deeper into the mid foot which likely accounts for the more secure fit present there. The heel counter is very rigid as it has almost no help from any additional overlay support. The balance of the upper is some of the thinnest open-weave mesh I’ve ever seen on a running shoe. An OrthoLite style sock liner is still standard equipment.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 Opinion:
Again, Mizuno has brought a killer ride with the Inspire series. The last two versions of this shoe are particularly impressive because they combine seamless transition, solid stability and the right level of firm cushioning necessary for every day use. The arch is still solid and located close to the heel which is exactly where I like it. I ran the shoe on both asphalt and treadmill runs and it performed pretty much like its predecessor.
I put over 50 miles on this shoe and there is hardly any outsole wear. This tells me that this Inspire matches up exceedingly well with my foot. That, and the shoe is just plain fun to run in. As mentioned earlier, the upper fit is where nearly all changes were made and I feel that this is the best fitting Inspire ever. And I’ve run in every version of this shoe since the Inspire 2!
Really the only possible drawback I found was that the upper is so breezy that it does concern me that some people could get cold feet in this shoe come winter. Fortunately for me I live in the Deep South and breeziness is generally a plus in a training shoe. This is the only issue that kept me from giving the shoe a 5 star rating-something I have never done at runningshoesguru.com.
Regardless, this is how a shoe should be updated; remove anything unnecessary to the goal and keep the core values of the shoe intact. Well done Mizuno.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Inspire 9 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.