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Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 review

7 expert score
0 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 07th March by Michael Mason-D'Croz Long distance runner, shoe expert.
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Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 Verdict

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 is a structured trainer that can take a pounding. The build quality is top-notch, and uses impressive materials. However, this shoe is not very inspiring on the foot.

The pros

  • Very comfortable shoe for all day
  • One of the best uppers I've run in
  • Top-notch build quality.
  • 70+ miles in, and it feels like new.

The cons

  • Almost no bounce
  • Harsh landing
  • 70+ miles in, and it feels like when it was new.


Rating breakdown

Comfort
8.0
Build quality
10
Upper
10
Sole unit
5.0
Landing
5.0
Transition
6.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
10
Durability
10
Value / Price
7.0

Facts / Specs

Brand
Model
Wave Inspire 20
Family
Previous model
Type
Weight
10.6 oz (301 g)
MSRP
$140.00

Heel
37.5 mm.
Toe
25.5 mm.
Heel drop
12 mm.
Carbon plate
Plate in other materials

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Tight
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Wide

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced
Amount of cushioning
Medium cushioning
Stability
Some stability
Flexibility
Medium

Usage

Racing
Speedwork
Daily training  
Long distance racing
Ultra distance racing

Who should buy the Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 ?

The Wave Inspire is designed for runners needing a moderate amount of stability help who want to log a lot of miles. It is made for people with a light foot impact, and I’d suggest lighter runners.

Who should not buy the Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 ?

This is not designed for those who want a little more bounce, and a softer ride. If you have a heavy foot impact, I would look elsewhere.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 Introduction

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 is the latest iteration of a staple in the Mizuno line. 20 years of one shoe name shows that there is a place in the market for this offering. In this case, the company uses their Wave plate to help alignment during your run and an ENERZY Foam midsole to cushion you as you go.

At a list price of $140, the Wave Inspire is in heavy competition with some of the most popular stability shoes on the market.

This model must compete against such stalwarts as the Saucony Guide 17, New Balance 860v13, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23, Brooks Hyperion GTS, HOKA Arahi 7, adidas Supernova Solution, ASICS GT2000, and Altra Provision 8.

Although I have not run in all of those other stability offerings, I am aware of the midsole technologies used by most of them. In this case, Mizuno is well established as a firmer runner, and that has not seemed to change over time. For those runners seeking a firm ride, Mizuno will always hit the mark.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 First Impressions

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20


When these shoes showed up, I was impressed with their looks. The blue colorway with three different shades of blue, gradient into white and a bright volt green is very visually appealing. The materials of the upper are soft and move well out of the box. The overall look was immediately motivating to put on my feet.

On that first run, a 4-mile slow effort, the shoe did an admirable job. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was supportive and consistent. I felt it lacked bounce compared to some of the previous shoes I had tested, but hoped that with time the cushioning would break in and become bouncier (like what happened with the Saucony Triumph RFG).

Using them as an all-day wear shoe for my job (teaching) was great. The firm cushion kept me supported, and relatively fresh all day. I have continued to use them at school.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 Upper

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20

The upper is a single-piece knit unit with embroidered overlays for structure. This soft, stretchy upper give great support throughout the foot and moves along with you through your entire running motion. Due to the knit structure, the shoe is quite breathable when it’s warmer. However the knit is tight enough that it wasn’t too cold for runs in freezing temps.

The shoe fits true to size with ample room for a more natural feeling foot structure. The heel is quite tight, helping lock the heel in without the need of locking lacing, widening a little in the midfoot to be supportive, and finally widening substantially in the toebox to offer room for your toes.

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20

The tongue on the upper is padded and stays in one place throughout your run, while helping to displace pressure from the laces. However, be aware that the laces that come with the shoe are ridiculously long. If you do not use the locking eyelet, you will have too much lace and even while tied the laces will be underfoot.

This upper was a dream.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 Sole Unit

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20

Mizuno uses their ENERZY foam on the top and bottom of the midsole which gives a cushioned ride. Between the two layers of foam, they have inserted an Elastollan N series Wave Plate – a plant-based plastic that offers support and a snappy feel.

This plate is inserted under the heel and through the midfoot following the natural anatomical curve of the foot to give more support and balance during your run. However, there was not much bounce to the cushion at any point of any run I did in them.

Below the midsole, Mizuno uses an X10 blown rubber outsole to give incredible traction. This outsole outperformed many of the outsoles from other companies which I’ve tried recently. This outsole responded well in dry, wet, and snowy conditions on cement and gravel.

This sole unit stacks up at 37.5mm under heel and 25.5mm under the forefoot, with a 12mm offset. The footbed is fairly wide under the toe, and offers a natural feel to your toe-off due to the designed rocker and widening from heel to toe.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 20 Conclusions

Picture of Mizuno Wave Inspire 20

This shoe is a dichotomy to me. On one hand, the upper is one of the best uppers I’ve worn in years. It’s dialed in, supportive, breathable, soft, and well designed in its proportions. However, on the other hand the midsole is truly uninspired.

At the end of the day, I place more importance on the sole unit of a shoe than I do on the upper. There are plenty of great options out there with sole units that feel soft, bouncy, and supportive but the uppers are just OK. And you know what? I’d likely rather run in those than a shoe where the upper is dialed in but the cushioning is not.

This shoe just didn’t do it for me. The cushioning was entirely too firm for my tastes and the ride felt jolting at times. But I’ve run in some firm shoes that also provided bounce, and this did not.

I put in over 70 miles of runs in the shoe the cushioning never softened. At first I thought it was a matter of breaking in the shoe, but that just never happened. So it was Mizuno’s intent to have the shoe stay firm.

If I tried to up my pace, it almost felt like I had to fight the shoe to get there. Unfortunately, that means that the shoe is relegated to LSD runs. However, if I’m not getting a soft ride on my slow runs, then I’m not going to enjoy it.

Other runners out there may enjoy the Mizuno Wave Inspire, and I can understand why they might. Those runners just don’t include me.

How does the Wave Inspire 20 compare?

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
Mizuno Wave Inspire 20
Asics Gel Kayano 30
Expert score
9
7
9
User score
Retail price
US$139.95
US$139.95
US$160
Shoe type
Weight
10.1 oz
10.6 oz
10.7 oz
Heel Drop
12 mm
12 mm
10 mm
Recommended for
Daily training
Daily training
Daily training
Cushioning type
responsive/balanced
balanced
balanced/plush
Cushioning amount
Medium cushioning
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
medium
medium
medium
Stability
very stable
some stability
very stable
Sizing
true to size
true to size
true to size

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Mizuno at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.

Reviewed by Michael

This review was written by Michael Mason-D'Croz on 07th March.
Michael Mason-D’Croz lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, working as a Spanish Teacher and soccer coach. Because training isn’t enough, he gets to chase around his almost 2-year-old daughter when he gets home from work and runs. On his free time — what little of it there is — he likes to play board games and sample tasty local beers.

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