Mizuno has some sort of cult following with runners and athletes. However, it seems that the company has lost its cult status among its fans over the years.
Many fans were not pleased with how Mizuno handled some iterations on some of their popular pairs (I’m looking at you Wave Rider). Others just seem to have moved on with other brands that offer more in terms of innovation.
However, in the past months, I think Mizuno has been on a roll especially with their Catalyst line. So, I was eager to try out the newest iteration of the Wave Inspire. For this post, we are going to take an in-depth look at the Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 and find out if it’s Mizuno’s return to former glory.
What is the Mizuno Wave Inspire 14?
The Wave Inspire 14 is the latest iteration in Mizuno’s popular Inspire line. Here’s the marketing pitch straight from Mizuno’s website:
From first to the last step, runners seeking guidance will find a smooth and supportive ride in the latest version of this category leader. Runners seeking guidance will find a smooth and supportive ride in the latest version of the Wave Inspire. Our new cloudwave technology combined with our traditional Wave “Fan Shaped” support design delivers the cushioned, responsive, and stable ride.
As you can see, the Inspire 14 is designed to be a stability shoe which we will discuss in better detail later.
Key Specs and Features
Here are key specs and features of the Inspire 14:
Very High | 12.1 mm
Very Low | 36.8 mm
Low | 24.7 mm
Creates an upper that moves with your foot seamlessly.
Cool and dry. Offers great breathability. Ventilation system reduces heat and humidity build-up inside the shoe during performance.
Mizuno cloudwave technology
Provides cushioning, guidance, and more lively feel underfoot. The Wave technology sets the standard for running shoes technologies.
Creates a smooth transition from heel to toe on every step.
Optimal shock attenuation, durability and a superior ride.
Durable carbon rubber that allows for longer wear.
A lighter, more cushioned iteration of U4ic, delivering a softer underfoot feeling for a smooth transition.
U4icX Strobel Lasting Board
Ensures a comfortable underfoot feel.
- Fan-Shaped medial support technology
- Premium sockliner
As mentioned, the Mizuno Men's Wave Inspire 14 Running Shoe was designed mainly to be a stability shoe. That is evident with the 12mm drop and a weight of 10 oz. The style is exactly what you can expect from a Mizuno shoe with a fairly traditional upper.
While it does have a stylish look, I have to say that the pair looks quite dated. It feels like a shoe that I would have worn back in 2012. However, that’s not exactly a bad thing and I imagine many folks would enjoy its traditional look. Construction feels solid and I am satisfied with that.
The Inspire Upper
There are two main things that you need to know about the Inspire 14’s upper. First, it’s not seamless nor knitted and features no 3D printed overlay. Second, the upper offers a great deal of comfort.
The upper is mesh with added synthetic overlays. What I enjoy the most about the upper is the fit. The shoe offers a good heel lock that feels firm but not constrictive at the midfoot. The toe box is both soft and wide which I enjoy.
The mesh design provides the right amount of breathability. It kept my feet warm but doesn’t feel too hot even after a few miles. I used thin running socks and my feet felt secure and breathed well.
Mizuno really brought their A-game when it comes to breathability.
For the midsole of the Inspire 14, Mizuno utilized two different foam compounds.
The midsole system is mainly composed of Mizuno U4ic (pronounced “euphoric”) foam which is quite lightweight and responsive. At the top, you can find a layer of the U4icX Heel Wedge which is essentially the softer equivalent of the U4ic foam. The heel wedge is designed for softer landings on the sole.
Well, you can definitely feel the midsole in action as you run in these shoes. The ride of the Mizuno Inspire 14 is delightfully soft but still quite responsive.
Another aspect of the sole unit that I really enjoyed is the thermo-plastic wave that is found from the heel to under the ankle. This wave is responsible for the amortization of the ground impact and torsional stability.
Again, the overall resulting ride has been a joy to experience. The Inspire 14 offers good stability but soft and responsive.
The Updated Outsole
The outsole features a blown rubber material and is powered by the X10 technology. After months of testing, I must say that the outsole just has the right amount of toughness and responsiveness. Traction also feels reliable when running on roads, and the few flex grooves also give improved traction on wet and dry surfaces.
Thanks to these flex grooves, the Inspire 14 has an excellent heel-to-toe transition.
On the other hand, the X10 technology adds extra durability and traction in the heel area. It serves as an entire protection for the sole unit. Overall, the outsole offers a good deal of durability, protection, flexibility, cushioning, and of course, stability.
The Comfort Experience
There were some reports that the synthetic stitched overlays of the shoe have caused irritation and discomfort. Many users also reported that the heel of the Inspire 14 is very narrow which lead to an uncomfortable experience as well.
On the other end of the pair, the toe box is quite roomy and wide.
True enough, the mesh upper feels comfortable especially when they are quite stretchy. The stitched overlays can indeed become uncomfortable but that was not the case with mine. This Mizuno Inspire features a soft collar and padded tongue which add to the comfort of the pair.
The premium sock liner is also thicker than previous models and under the liner, you’ll find another layer of soft material. For the most part, the Inspire 14 was a comfortable ride in my case.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that all Mizuno running shoes will break-in in about 75 miles or so. This is applicable to the Inspire 14 as well. So, don’t be surprised if the shoe doesn’t feel super comfortable out of the box.
So just how durable the Inspire 14 is?
Perhaps the most durable part of the Inspire 14 is the outsole which is ideal considering it’s the most prone to wear and tear.
The stitched overlays also provide another layer of durability and is a welcome change from the no-overlays that most running shoe models use now. After many test runs, I have to say that the Inspire 14 is holding out just fine which is great especially when its price is on the higher end.
As of this writing, the Wave Inspire 14 is available for $130 on Mizuno’s website and $129 to $139 on Amazon.
As mentioned, the Inspire 14 is a bit on the higher end of things when it comes to price. For starters, it’s even more expensive than the Inspire 13 which is not a surprise since 14 is meant to be the updated model. If you’re just going to look at the price only, then it might be hard to fork over the money.
However, you have to keep in mind that this might be one of the best Inspire shoes released. It has enough feature and updates that will put the previous models to shame. We find it hard to find some real faults with it.
On top of everything, every part and construction of the shoe feel durable and solid so this pair should last you a long while.
How It Compares
So how does the Inspire 14 fair when compared to running shoes in the same price range? Here are some comparable products that are worth checking out:
- This is a stability shoe designed for mild to moderate over-pronation
- Impact Guidance System
- FluidRide midsole responsiveness and durability
The ASICS Men's GT-2000 Running Shoe is one of the main competitors to the Mizuno Wave Inspire 14.
The GT-2000 line has always been a quality workhorse of a shoe that provides superior support, stability, and comfort. Many runners refer to it as the “basic” running shoe just because it does so many things right.
The GT-2000 is equipped with a premium midsole called FlyteFoam which is lighter. The lesser weight encourages a more efficient cadence which greatly reduces the need for a wider base. This change can be a make or break but personally, I really love it.
The Guidance Line and Trusstic System, both Asics staples, are still here with their proven gait guidance and stability. It’s a much cheaper alternative to the Inspire 14 but still packs a lot of features.
- Triple-density foam midsole with Dynamic Support platform provides excellent stability
- Flywire cables enhance lockdown and create a glove-like fit.
- Flymesh upper for targeted ventilation and support.
The NIKE Men's Air Zoom Structure 21 Running Shoe is yet another great alternative to the Inspire 14.
Over its many iterations, the Nike Structure has been made lighter but still retains its secure midfoot and sturdy base. The midsole is composed of a dual-density mix of Phylon and Cushlon foams. The foams are fairly soft on the lateral while harder on the medial side. This is made possible by Nike’s Dynamic Support.
Comfort is one of the greatest strengths of the Nike Structure. Thanks to its lightweight and breathable upper. Even after a couple of miles, my feet never felt like they’re in an oven.
It’s a very level and stable shoe – a worthy competitor to the Inspire 14.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire is an excellent stability shoe that does so many things right.
It is appropriately stable, offers good breathability and comfort, provides excellent ride quality, and very responsive. I consider myself a fan of the Wave Inspire line and I was worried about the Inspire 14. As it turned out, Mizuno went above and beyond my expectations.
However, you should be aware that the pair comes with a hefty price tag. But despite the high price, I must say that the Inspire 14 is a good bang for your buck. We rate the Inspire 14 a respectable 9 out of 10.
Do you own the Mizuno Inspire 14? Improve this review by sharing your insights and experience with the shoe. Feel free to let us know in the comments section!