Mizuno seems to have lost a little of the cult status it used to have among its fans.
Some people have been turned off by some less fortunate iterations on some popular shoes (a couple of models of the Rider missed the mark), some people have flocked to the incredible amount of innovation around the industry, both new companies and the usual suspects.
I was eager to get my feet in the Wave Inspire 14.
Wave Wave Inspire 14 First Impressions
The Wave Inspire 14 is a shoe that has changed little over the years. It is a stability shoe with a 12mm drop and a weight just above 10 ounces. Quite traditional upper and a midsole that is common for Mizuno, but uncommon for the other brands. More on this in a little while.
So, the shoe came and it looks exactly how it could have looked like in 2012. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Here are my impressions after a couple of months of running in them.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 Upper
Here are the two things you need to know about the upper.
- the upper is not seamless, is not knitted, doesn’t have 3D printed overlays
- this upper is incredibly comfortable
As you can see from this picture, the upper is mesh with added structure in the way of synthetic overlays that are stitched over.
After running a good 100km in these shoes I can safely say… it doesn’t matter. What I love about this upper is the fit. Good lock on the heel, firm but not constrictive at the midfoot and wide and soft in the toebox.
The mesh is the right blend not to be freezing when it’s cold, but also not to feel like in an oven after a few miles. My feet always breathed very well while running in the Inspire 14.
I haven’t tried them without socks (blame it on a very long winter) and I don’t think I will, but it feels really good with thin running socks and the feet feels secure in the shoe.
The feel under foot is nice and soft, and I’ll tell you more about it now in the midsole section.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 Sole Unit
Mizuno uses two different foam compounds in the midsole of the Inspire 14.
The midsole is mainly comprised of Mizuno U4ic (read “euphoric”) foam that is lightweight and quite responsive. On the top there is a layer of U4icX Heel Wedge which is a softer version of the U4ic foam, designed to make the landing smoother on your sole.
Well, this works and you can definitely feel it when you run in these shoes.
One of my favorite aspects of the Inspire 14 is how the ride is soft, but at the same time responsive.
The other, obvious, aspect of this sole unit is the thermo-plastic wave that goes from the heel to the area right under the ankle. This Wave provides both amortisation of the impact with the ground and torsional stability.
Nowadays shoes like the Zoom Vaporfly 4% and the Zoom Fly tout the use of a plate in the midsole as a pinnacle of running innovation – but Mizuno has been doing this for years.
The resulting ride is great: stable but soft and with great feel underfoot.
The outsole has a good grip and EXCELLENT flexibility. While being rigid under the heel and ankle, the toe is extremely flexible and allows you a good degree of control over your stride.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 Conclusion
I came into this test with high hopes, because I was such a good fan of the Wave Catalyst.
My fears were that this shoe would have been too responsive for a high mileage trainer and maybe too heavy. I wasn’t a fan of the upper, when I saw it on the pictures.
Well, now I am a believer. If you need stability and want a shoe that gently but surely hugs your feet, that is soft when you land but responsive when you light your toes off the ground, try these Mizuno.
We purchased a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 at Running Warehouse paying with our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after logging more than 50 miles in the shoes.