Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 Review

A few readers have mentioned the 11’s forefoot mesh was a weak spot, so logically raising the bumper (equals more vertical space for the toe) and backing the mesh material is a reasonable solution.


The midfoot still retains a combination of stitched-on and welded overlays. Except that the welding design is angular instead of fish-scale shaped.


The outer heel is covered with materials, including a nice touch of detail with the welded logo.

The midfoot gets a few extra overlays on the outside. The fish scale type of urethane layers are replaced with sharper looking welding, and the sides get stitched-on overlays.

The Inspire 12 drops the English-Japanese logo combo of the 11, and instead displays the model name by means of horizontal, 3D welding.


Same logo embossed tongue lining as previous year.


All Mizuno’s look and feel exactly the same around these parts.


The tongue-top logo gets the high frequency welded treatment.

The tongue and collar lining stay the same, and the tongue gets a few cosmetic upgrades, like the jewel-like Mizuno call-out near the top. Most Mizuno running shoes feature tongues with a very wide flap, and the Inspire 12 comes stitched with a similar component.

Mizuno, like Asics, doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of inner sleeves and gussets. So the tongue continues to sport a traditional design, attached only at the front.


There’s an inner seam on the lateral (outer) side, and it has moved further away from the front. Result? Better interior fit and feel.


The medial (arch) side tape of the Inspire 11 has been replaced with an non-invasive, thin layering.

Inside the midfoot are where meaningful changes happen. If you remember our Inspire 11 review, we had pointed out the irritating, stitched-on inner tapes on both the lateral and medial sides.

The Inspire 12 tweaks that design, and ends up removing the lateral side inner tape. On the medial (arch) side, the tape is still there, but moves further towards the rearfoot. This act of relocating the tape prevents the latter from rubbing against the foot arch.


The Inspire 12’s mesh has changed – ends up being very similar to what’s on the Rider 18.


The Inspire 12 (right) has a higher toe-bumper when compared to the Inspire 11.

These structural revisions lead to an upper fit change. The forefoot ceiling is higher, which puts a stop to the big-toe (potentially) straining against the mesh. The raised profile also opens up more room ahead, which makes the Inspire 12 run nearly a half size larger.

The fit around the forefoot sides go narrower due to the toe-bumper tips extending further towards the midfoot. This is more noticeable on the lateral (outer) side than medial forefoot, though.


1) Longer toe bumper 2) Change in welded urethane design 3) Heel now covered under a lot of layering

Mizuno’s decision to remove one of the inner seam tapes and re-locate the medial-side tape towards the rear vastly improves the quality of midfoot fit.

And we don’t use the word ‘vastly’ loosely; the Inspire 12’s midfoot interior environment is far more comfortable than the Inspire 11’s.

  • Robb

    “All in all, the Inspire 12 is a curious update full of surprises. It is still supportive in Mizuno’s own unique way, but no more than the ‘neutral’ Wave Rider 19, which oddly turns out to be a firmer shoe”

    Agree. I have worn the WR 13, 15, and 17 and once tried the Inspire. I actually preferred the cushion of the Inspire, but not the stability features.

    All of Mizuno’s changes seem “curious.” It seems they change for the sake of change. The WR13 was preferred by many and never has been the same.

    Personal thought, it seems Mizuno running shoes are not the focus of the company. Their golf, baseball, and other sports seem to be the foundation for the company. The previous year’s models can be found at very, very cheap prices (possibly indicating a lack of sales) as compared to Brooks, Asics, and Nike.

    • Perhaps this is the reason why Mizuno is making their shoes softer? To appeal to a mainstream audience?

      • Robb


        Mizuno’s lack of popularity is indicative of the minimal replies to this review compared to other reviews.

  • Steven

    Can’t help but feel that this version of the Inspire is not true to this shoe’s heritage. All models since the 6 (yes, I’ve used them for a long time) have had the 11’s “snappy” responsive ride. WHen I tried the 12 at my local shop it felt too similar to the Paradox. consequently I bought a pair of 11s on run-out. Will try to source some more of these, as I didn’t like the 12’s bulky feel.

    • Thanks for the feedback – have no idea at all about Inspires before V11.

  • Rudra Rana

    hey i had ankle operation (ATFL) and used puma FAAs1000 after that which seemed quite comfy. then i started using the reebok ziglite. both shoes on treadmill or soft ground and nothing more than 5k…however i started developing shin pain i think because of the ziglite. even though the ankle is fine now the knee of the other leg plus the shins trouble me… i am looking foe anew shoe to gradually build up for a half marathon….have read so many reviews that i am confused…any suggestions would be greatly appreiated..

    • Sorry Rudra, we cannot help here – injuries might or might not be caused because of footwear. It is best to see a physio for ways to treat your pain.

  • Lance F

    I’ve run in the Inspire 8, 9 and 11 and loved them all. I recently tried the 12 on in a store and felt that my heel was slipping. I compared the 12 side-by-side with my 11 and they definitely looked about a half size larger. Just to be sure about the heel slippage issue, I also tried a half size smaller and still felt that my heel was slipping. I know your review indicated that the heel area hasn’t changed from the 11. Looking at pictures of the 12 and the 11, the last eyelet in the 12 seems farther away from the heel than in the 11. Could that be the reason why my heel feels like it’s slipping? I also tried on the Guide 19 at the store and felt that my heel was slipping, albeit not as much as the Inspire 12. Bottom line is I didn’t feel comfortable in the Inspire 12’s and I don’t know what to do now. Years ago, I ran in Asics GT-2000s, but they seemed slow once I discovered the Inspire series. I also tried Sacuony Hurricanes but they felt like concrete blocks on my feet.

    • Charles

      Try barefoot 🙂

    • It is possible that the softer insole is causing the foot to sink in further, creating the sensation of slippage.

      Have you tried the Sequence 8 Boost?

  • Haikal A

    hi solerunner, i dont know where else i should ask so ill just wrote it here:
    could you write more review about trail run shoe, or just any shoe more outdoor oriented (like hiking shoe perhjaps). most of the review out there is very subjective and didn’t have actual number/ material photos to back em up. all i see is people sayin “this trail runners grip more than other brand”, or “the material seems more durable to rocky condition”. i just wish i had trail shoe review which actually compare the shoe objectively, like what you do on running shoe. i dont know how big the market potential though. thanks for listening

    • Hi!

      Thank you for the feedback! We currently don’t write outdoor footwear reviews because of resource constraints, but once we do, we’ll be happy to get into trail running shoe reviews!

  • John

    Thanks for the great reviews! I tried Odyssey but it was a disaster for me. One source that has great info on running shoes is this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQBKVeA_qrI, they are quite thorough and combined with your analysis, this is a great help to all of us. They suggest Saucony Ride 7, like you did, which I might try.

  • Guillermo

    Great job with the site, thanks for all the reviews!!!

    I’m looking for a bit of advice:

    I’ve been running with Lunar Eclipse (v3 and V4 for the last few years). It’s a shoe that I liked and felt comfortable with, even though I’ve always suffered from shin splints. I’ve managed to keep them at bay by using a MacDavid calf sleeve… otherwise I would start getting pain in my shins after 3-4 runs without using them.

    Recently I had to shop again for new shoes, but the Lunar Eclipse are gone. So I tried several pairs (including the Nike Air Zoom Odyssey) and ultimately settled for this Inspire 12, they felt the best at the store.

    After two months of use I’m developing ITBS and also for some reason my toes are hurting at the tip (surprising since one of the reasons I chose them was the roomy toe box). I had never had any of these issues before, so I’m blaming them on the Inspire 12… even though I’ve run my first marathon during this time.

    So now after the marathon I’m slowly getting back to running and working hard on my running form in the hopes of getting rid of my shin splints once and for all (I’d like to run without the calf sleeves!). In the process I want to go a bit more minimalistic with my shoes to see if that’s also a factor that will help my form and running economy.

    Any recommendations for a new pair of shoes? I get the Inspire 12 at Roadrunner so I can still exchange them for a new pair. Thanks so much in advance!

    • How much of running were you doing before the marathon? Besides the shoes, overtraining could potentially be an issue.

      That said, if you’re looking for a relatively minimal shoe, then the New Balance 1500 V1 or V2 is worth a try.

      • Guillermo


        I had been training Ning for the marathon for a while, and I got the Mizuno’s just as I was about to start the tapering, like about 3 weeks before the race. They felt good at first, but after a few runs I got pain in the top of my feet, so I had to change the traditional lacing which helped… But the more I run in them the more I noticed they weren’t right for me… And then those issues appeared.

        I’ll look into the NB 1500… I was also thinking of the Saucony Kinvara or Ashoka Clifton as potentially good transition shoes… Any thoughts on those? And maybe a Nike equivalent if you can think of one? Thanks!!!

        • Apart from the 1500, you could try the Nike LunarTempo 2. Yes, the Kinvara is also worth considering.

          The Clifton? Not sure. You mentioned minimalist, but these shoes are anything but.