ALDREN: Some things fly under the radar and stay out of the public view because, on paper, they’re just not well advertised. Compare season 3 of The Umbrella Academy and season 4 of Stranger Things — which of those did you watch? I’m not bashing Mizuno, but when was the last time you sat down to research their prototypes and leaks? Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen some glimmers of light from the brand, but for now, let’s dive into their staple stability shoe.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is your everyday overpronator’s reliable daily trainer. This year’s most significant update is in the reconstruction of this engineered mesh upper. Other than that, the Enerzy midsole and Wave Plate act as a cushioning suspension to log easy to moderate miles.
MERCER: The Wave Inspire has always just kind of been there. Year after year, it makes its rounds with a handful of customers who enjoy that artisan Japanese midsole foam and plate work, coupled with the handcrafted uppers that fit snug on just about everyone. Here comes version 18 with a new technical mesh upper to get you back into the barrel of the Wave.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: Last year was my first time riding the Wave (Inspire 17). Looking back at that review, I ended by saying my experience wasn’t life-changing but wasn’t awful either. With the Wave Inspire 18, not much was changed. The upper received most of the update, while the outsole and midsole seem the same.
ALDREN: In the best way possible, the Wave Inspire 18 is a very thoughtless shoe. While I continue to test a handful of models coming out later this year, I know that if I throw on my Wave Inspire, no issues will spur up.
As I said, the major update to the new Wave Inspire 18 is the upper. Mizuno retains that snugger fit that their fans continue to come back for. This engineered mesh lends a very breathable construction that hugged my foot well. From heel to toe, it molded around my foot to the point where the shoe felt like an extension of my body.
The U4ic midsole and X10 outsole remain unchanged. I can’t be too critical of Enerzy foam because it does everything you need. It’s on par with the DNA Loft of the Brooks Adrenaline, so it’s cushioned enough to handle longer mileage but doesn’t feel too heavy underfoot. The outsole is similar to what we’ve seen in the past from Mizuno: a solid amount of durability that will handle any bits of crummy rain I’ve been running through these summer months. Three flex grooves are found at the forefoot to keep the shoe as easygoing as possible.
The Wave Plate is the main thing that separates Mizuno from the other brands. I’m unsure if I feel it, but it helps mitigate my overpronation. Especially on longer efforts, the Wave Plate forms a traditional type of medial side posting that keeps the shoe sturdy and stable.
MERCER: Like the Brooks Ghost and the Adrenaline, this shoe is average. Nothing sticks out to me, and I use it whenever I can’t think of anything else to wear. That’s where it shines — many runners don’t care about what shoe they want each day, so having one reliable option is important.
The Enerzy foam feels alright. It’s just your basic EVA, not much to it. What changes the foam is that Wave Plate, and whether we like it or not, it’s not going away anytime soon. You’re gonna feel the stability as you crash to the inside, which may work great for you knowing that it’s there. I’d have to say it wasn’t my cup of tea, but it’s something I can appreciate in a shoe.
The upper is so much more dialed in than last year’s model. It will give you the same fit that the Glycerin 20 and the Saucony Triumph had. The overlays on the shoe make it look a little more appealing to the human eye, and the cross-section of knitting keeps everything in place without crushing you. There’s also a fair amount of breathability, which is well appreciated after these disgusting days in Virginia. This gives you that classic tight Mizuno fit, but I think this year’s version will finally work for some D-width people.
The outsole will be the same as last year, meaning better than most but falls short of Puma and Brooks.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: The new engineered mesh upper is pretty great. I believe it’s slightly softer and fits better than the previous version. My issue with the Wave Inspire 17 lay in the gusseted tongue, which I cut out because it felt constricting. With this new version, I haven’t had any issues with fit in the midfoot or the forefoot. The wide version feels excellent on foot.
Like the Wave Inspire 17, the 18 has the U4ic midsole with a Wave Plate and Enerzy foam in the heel. I found the heel very stable and helped with my pronation. The forefoot cushioning is decent, but nothing spectacular.
The outsole is also unchanged with the X10 carbon rubber and provides excellent traction. It’s not a significant drop, but my US M10.5 2E weighed 11.5 oz. while my Wave Inspire 17 weighed 11.8 oz.Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Men Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Women
ALDREN: I don’t have anything here, but Mizuno shoes are pretty ugly. This Wave Inspire 18 colorway looks like your typical watermelon summer splash on a bottle of Welch’s.
It’s a solid shoe. What can I say?
MERCER: I don’t know, this shoe is so mid that there aren’t any bad things to highlight. Unlike the Ghost, whose average-ness makes it shine, this is somewhat napworthy.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: Truthfully, the Wave Inspire 18 still falls flat for me. The 12mm drop is massive, so no matter how good your form is, it will force you more towards heel striking. With that huge drop and the firm, stiff heel, my feet felt like they were slapping the ground. I used it more for easy runs, but nothing felt that easy.Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Men Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Women
ALDREN: While the Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 may never be the focal point in any running store’s shoe wall, I think it’ll stay an underrated shoe. If you’re looking for a stability model or a solid intro to running shoe, I recommend looking at this model.
MERCER: The Wave Inspire fans are going to have a field day with this one, and if you also want some crazy stability in a semi-lightweight package, this will work wonders for you. Will I ever pull this shoe from the back? Maybe not, but if I pull it for you, I know you’ll love it.
WIDE FOOT JARRETT: It’s not that I dislike the Mizuno Wave Inspire 18. It’s that I don’t feel inspired at all. The shoe blends in with the pack and doesn’t stick out in any noticeable way. Sure, it does its job and provides excellent stability but lacks excitement when lacing up. At least the 2E fit is better than last year’s model.
You can pick up the Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Men Shop Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 – Women
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