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Road Running Shoes • June 24, 2021

Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 Performance Review

Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 FEATURE

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 11.2 oz. (317 g) for US M9.0 / 9.1 oz. (258 g) for US W8.0
  • New Mizuno ENERZY foam midsole (think bouncy)
  • Double fan-shaped wave plate replaces traditional wave plate
  • It’s not bad for a stability shoe, but inspire is a bit of a stretch

HOLLIE: I haven’t run in Mizuno in a couple of years. There isn’t really a reason why other than I typically gravitate towards other shoes. I neither love nor hate Mizuno, and if I have a pair, I’ll run through them until the mileage is done but rarely do I gravitate towards them. I know – don’t hate me Mizuno loyalists! 

I’m usually a neutral shoe wearer, but usually, once a week, I run in a stability shoe when my legs and feet are tired. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 has been a great shoe for this. 

Most years with Mizuno, I can say: “same shoe, different year.” Translation: They ain’t exactly known for breaking the mold. That said, the Inspire 17, actually has undergone some significant updates. What changed? Take a look:

  • The tread pattern is more grippy. I don’t deal with much rain in the Mojave, but I do deal with sand. The extra traction is welcomed. It’s quickly become one of my favorites for running the dunes, and I don’t feel like I’m losing traction or falling down the side of a sand dune. Yes, I have rolled down the side of sand dunes before, and it’s not pleasant. 
  • The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is also more flexible than previous years. You don’t feel like you’re running in a high heel. The once firm brand is softening up and flexing up. Like melting butter, but in a good way?
  • New Mizuno ENERZY energy cushion, which Mizuno claims is softer and “more energizing.” (Fairly accurate claims, tbh).

I’ve logged close to 100 miles in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17, and I think the update is good. Let’s move on with the review.

RYAN: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 was a bit of a first for me – first Mizuno running shoe, first true stability shoe, and my very first time reviewing for Believe in the Run. Like most things, there’s probably plenty of room to grow following a first experience, but luckily the Wave Inspire has had almost two decades to refine itself.

The shoe takes plenty of cues from the Wave Rider 24, most notably the addition of Mizuno’s ENERZY foam in the heel wedge. However, the Wave Plate is what keeps the Wave Inspire true to its stability goal. Mizuno’s two-sided fan-style plate sits right on top of that ENERZY foam I’ve mentioned once or twice, and it’s a key part of the really high 12 mm drop. Perched atop that thicc slab of ENERZY, Mizuno went for an engineered mesh upper that manages to be warm, yet breathable – a juicy contradiction, no?

One of my bigger fears heading into a stability review was the weight, but I can happily say that the Wave Inspire 17 comes in at 10.9 oz, which isn’t light, but it’s not totally awful. For reference, that’s about an ounce heavier than the ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite. They’re not feathers exactly, but they’re pretty okay for the support and cushion that they’re pushin’.

Now that we know what we’re up against, let’s ride this Wave (Inspire) together.

JARRETT: A couple of weeks ago I had my mind blown seeing my 2-year-old niece try orange juice for the first time. Obviously she loved it, but I was so envious of that brand new experience. Little did I know that a Mizuno shoe box would be arriving and I too would get to try something for the first time (although not as high in Vitamin C). Yup, I’m a Mizuno noob.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 - MEN

The Good

HOLLIE: I need to include the fit for the wide foot fam. Mizuno is known to be narrow. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 in wide fits well. Mizuno actually adjusted the women’s wides to meet the industry standard. If you had tried a Mizuno wide previously, you know, it was not always “wide.”  Now it is.

As a lady with a size 11 wide foot, finding a good fitting shoe can be challenging. If you go wide, sometimes that means the heel is slipping too. With the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 (and really Mizuno in general), the wide still has a nice secure heel. It fits true to size, and as far as wides go, it’s a good fit. Nothing to complain about there.

The wave plate is still there. Don’t worry, Mizuno loyalists, if you come for the wave plate, you’ll be happy to know it’s still there.

It’s just a good stability shoe. Most brands are changing their stability shoes, but Mizuno keeps a classic traditional option with a medial post and wave plate.

I like the extra softness of the ENERZY foam. I don’t love the feeling of the ground for every run, so that extra piece of soft ENERZY foam makes the shoe significantly more comfortable. It also isn’t too soft so that it can respond to faster paces. I feel like this version of the Inspire can be used for almost anything from easy runs to faster long runs. For me, it settles right into an easy run shoe. 

RYAN: How can I jump into the good without first mentioning the colorway? Mizuno hit the nail on the head with this one, because the red, white, and blue version that I received is pretty slick. It’s not necessarily Independence Day-themed (the official name is India Ink) but it’s hard not to immediately feel a little bit more ‘Murican as you rack up the miles. The engineered mesh upper is pretty solid as well – not too warm, but thick enough that you can wear it well after summer is over. Mizuno embossed the midfoot section of the engineered mesh upper as well for a little better lockdown.

Mizuno’s ENERZY foam feels pretty darn good. It’s nice and soft, and it feels like you could keep trucking along for a good long time. The smart, sciency folks tell me that it’s supposedly 15% more responsive than the previous U4ic foam, and it has a 100% catchier name. That U4ic foam isn’t gone, however, it just sits above the Wave Plate and through the forefoot and does its job without protest. In fact, the forefoot ride is probably the most enjoyable part of the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17. It’s bouncy and responsive, and it certainly kept me moving.

Sitting comfortably below all of that fancy stuff is an outsole made of Mizuno’s Micro Blown Rubber, and let me tell you that it could probably stop a bullet. The stuff is tough, like Forrest Gump running across the states tough. It’ll probably stick around for more miles than I can really count.

Just to recap, the upper feels great – it’s breathable-yet-warm, and secures my foot with plenty of padding. The forefoot foam is great too, it has plenty of response when I’m moving. Even the outsole rubber is pretty kickin’ and you could probably make tank treads from the stuff. Now there’s just one or two things I haven’t mentioned… stay tuned.

JARRETT: The engineered mesh upper is as traditional as you could imagine when it comes to daily trainers. It’s soft and has both a nicely padded tongue and heel collar. The whole thing just works and is comfortable. The tongue is gusseted and normally I am a huge fan of that. For some reason, this felt tight to me and I did the unthinkable. I cut the stretchy part of the gusset out. Once I did that, the shoe fit great with my wide midfoot.

The midsole is made up of foam material called U4ic, a double fan wave plate for stability, and a wedge of ENERZY foam in the heel for more cushioning. Unlike Ryan, I actually was more of a fan of the ENERZY foam than the U4ic. The 12 mm drop forced me to heel strike and my impact was absorbed by the ENERZY. I thought the U4ic was on the flatter side during toe-off. 

Thanks to the X10 carbon rubber outsole, the Wave Inspire 17 should last a looooong time. It grips the pavement great and barely has any wear at all. I am going to assume this is a big culprit of the high weight.

Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Men Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Women Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 - UPPER

The Bad

HOLLIE: The last time I remember, the Mizuno Wave Inspire was $130; now it’s $135? Why? What makes it $5 more expensive? Is it the ENERZY foam? That might not seem like a lot, but most of its competitors like the Brooks Adrenaline, Hoka Arahi 5, Saucony Guide are all $130. You cannot be more expensive and be about the same. That said, it is only $5, so that may not matter for most people.

I cannot get over the overall bland color. Talk about boring. Grey Girl. I know I’m just a regular wide foot shoe reviewer, but come on. 

Too much change? Maybe. There are some diehard Mizuno fans that “hate change,” so I don’t know how you’ll feel about this softer ride and update. I think it’s great, though.

RYAN: I’m a big fan of drops – bass drops, price drops, even rain drops, but the 12 mm drop proved just a little too much for me. It was immediately noticeable, and I never really got used to the difference throughout my testing. If you don’t mind a high-drop shoe, you probably won’t mind it at all, it’s just something to be ready for ahead of time.

My biggest issue with the Wave Inspire 17s was actually in the heel. While the forefoot had a nice bounce and response with the U4ic foam, the heel … didn’t. I can only guess that the Wave Plate was harshing on my mellow a little bit, because the shoes felt good at all other times. When I was walking or standing still, the Wave Inspire 17s felt great, but they felt a little Jekyll and Hyde once I put some pace into them.

JARRETT: One thing I noticed during a long run was the shoe was slap-happy when trying to increase my speed. The huge 12 mm drop forces me to heel strike and there isn’t much flex in the shoe until the forefoot. I also started to bonk during the later part of the same run. The 11.8 oz. weight for my size 10.5 2E took its toll and exhausted my legs quickly.

Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Men Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Women Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 - UPPER 1

Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 Conclusion

HOLLIE: While not the looker of the running world,  I think the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is a good stability shoe. As long as they don’t raise the price anymore, we will be good here.

Not many stability shoes can “do it all,” but the Mizuno Wave Inspire can handle faster runs as well as easy runs. If I needed one multipurpose, stable trainer, this would be a good option.

RYAN: If you’re a bigger fan of drops than I am, this is a shoe for you. If you want solid stability and a comfortable shoe for all parts of the year, this is your man. The Wave Inspire 17 checks both of those boxes with a Sharpie that’s thicker than the ENERZY foam.

Mizuno’s Wave Plate might not be the new hotness in terms of stability tech, but it’s tried and it’s true. If the company can reunite Jekyll and Hyde in the ride, the Wave Inspire 18 could be an excellent stability successor.

JARRETTMy first experience with Mizuno wasn’t life-changing, but wasn’t awful either. The Wave Inspire 17 is a very solid stability shoe. The wide width is nice (once I cut out the gusset), and the upper provides good comfort. I prefer using it more for easy runs compared to faster days. The ENERZY cushion in the heel has nice cushion, but that 12 mm drop and lack of flex makes the shoe a slapper.

You can pick up the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 for $135 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Men Shop Wave Inspire 17 – Women

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