Mizuno is probably the envy of many brands within running shoe industry. Mizuno does virtually no advertising yet they remain one of the top brands year in and year out not by promotion, but primarily through a clear focus on their product. They make shoes each season that are consistent in road feel and fit so customers know what to expect. The cosmetics are generally well done with top quality materials and construction techniques used throughout adding to the perceived value of the shoes. Mizuno has a well earned reputation among experienced runners for providing shoes that perform well with little fanfare or hype, just solid shoes using proven technologies with little in the way of over the top changes each season.
Mizuno shoes perform differently across their entire line than any other brand. Mizuno’s are unique in that they tend to be light on the foot, provide great road feel and heel to toe transitions that allow you to run fast and not have the shoe get in the way. Good quality footwear that encourages you to go fast.
For Spring 2010 Mizuno has a few key technologies that have been updated. In keeping with the conservative nature of the company, the changes represent an evolution of an already proven technology rather than an entirely new, unproven concept.
AP+ is the updated midsole material that Mizuno has incorporated into the new Wave Nirvana 6, Wave Creation 11 and Wave Elixir 5 due out in Spring 2010. The key differences between the AP midsole and the new AP+ midsole is AP+ has a bouncier feel through increased rebound properties (10% greater than AP) and improved recovery speed, meaning AP+ comes back closer to its cushioning potential at a faster rate than regular AP. Additionally, the cushioning provided by AP+ last significantly longer than AP. Studies show that after 600k, the AP midsole lost 40% of it’s cushioning ability. The new AP+ looses less than 20% over the same 600k. Mizuno has improved the inherent ability of the AP+ foam to cushion. AP+feels closer to how the foam initially did when fresh out of the box for a longer period of time.
The new Dynamotion Fit in the second key technology improvement from Mizuno for next Spring. In first round, Mizuno focused on the heel contact phase trying to minimize the upper deformation on lateral part of heel collar thus compromising the fit of shoe while in motion. In this version Mizuno is now focusing on the entire contact time when the foot is on the ground. There are two specific points of focus in helping achieve this goal: Mizuno is now using 1-way stretch air mesh in vamp which is built by making upper pattern smaller than shoe’s last, thereby contracting in concert with skin during toe-off preventing puckering in the upper many runners experience during toe-off. The stretch area in midfoot is the second area of focus. The ball girth area of foot stretches 10-30% for most people during the toe off stage. The overlays on medial instep and lateral ball girth manage the stretching by holding these key areas in place, keeping the foot centered on the midsole.
The New Mizuno Wave Nirvana 6 is their flagship support shoe featuring all of Mizuno’s bells and whistles, in this case the just mentioned AP+ Midsole as well as the updated Dynamotion Fit. The Nirvana 6 receives a premium collar lining and a flex eyelet to improve heel fit, plus a new plush single layer sockliner. Add to this a very nicely done new upper that looks really rich, plus a weight reduction of .5 oz. and the result is a very pleasant update that will certainly appeal to current and potential fans of the Wave Nirvana series.
On the other end of the pronation control scale, the Mizuno Wave Creation 11 is the flagship neutral trainer for Mizuno. It sports the same upgrades as the previously mentioned Nirvana 6: The new AP+ midsole, updated Dynamotion Fit upper, Premium collar lining, Flex eyelet and Plush single-layer ortholite sockliner are all included. The cosmetics on this are great. Very luxiourious, top quality materials used throughout plus it comes in at 1 oz lighter than the Creation 10 – a top shelf update.
The Wave Inspire and Wave Rider are the top selling models for Mizuno. They have a very strong, loyal following so Mizuno ensures their updates are dead-on. In this case, the new Wave Inspire 6 and Wave Rider 13 receive very modest updates owing to the fact the current version of both are very dialed in. The Inspire 6 and Rider 13 have received the same basic updates including a new premium collar which has a soft, elegant feel to it in addition to an added flex eyelet that should enhance the ability to snug the heel more securely. The upper of both received a similar treatment as the Nirvana 6, meaning a nice, rich upper with top quality materials, construction techniques and great cosmetics. Other than that, the shoes stays the same. Same nice midsole, same outsole, same good fit and road manners as the previous versions. The Wave Inspire 6 and Wave Rider 13 both come in at .8 oz lighter which combine should enable the Inspire 6 and Wave Rider 13 to continue to be top sellers in their category.
The Mizuno Wave Elixir 5 is the third model to receive a fairly significant remodel. The most obvious is the overhauled cosmetics of the men’s shoe. This model is the Go-Fast, lightweight support trainer for the brand, but the midsole color seem better suited to a trail shoe. If this was the Mizuno Go-Fast trail shoe, the colors would rock. As it is, the dark midsole color give the shoe a bulky feel. Cool overall colors, they just don’t necessarily exude speed, at least to me they don’t.
Technically, the shoe comes to the table with some nice updates. The Elixir 5 features a new Composite Double Fan Wave Plate that has a perforated TPU lateral plate for a softer road feel and a Pebax Rnew medial plate for greater lightweight support. The Elixir 5 features the new AP+ midsole as well as the G3 Sole for increased grip, added durability and lighter weight. Think DuoSole and you get an idea of what’s happening here. Colors aside, the Wave Elixir 5 is a very nice update to an already very nice shoe.
The final updates for the spring 2010 line for Mizuno also have the least amount of updates, the Wave Nexus 4 and the Wave Musha 2. The Nexus 4 offers a fantastic blend of technology and cosmetics, along with very good quality materials and construction finish to provide a shoe that compares favorably with other, more expensive models from competing brands for a fraction of the price. In keeping with the Mizuno plan of maintaining midsoles for 24 months while making 12 month update to the uppers and 6 month updates to the color graphics of the shoe, the Nexus 4 remains a largely untouched version of the shoe which is fine. The Nexus 3 was great. The lone update to the Nexus 4 is the addition of the premium collar lining.
A similar update story is in store for the Mizuno Wave Musha 2, the support racing flat for Mizuno. The midsole is untouched, it’s still very responsive and lightweight. The outsole benefits in terms of grip by offering the same blown/solid rubber outsole as the original Musha, but with a slightly new tread design. The upper now features a few less overlays to increase comfort and save weight, while the color combination is quite a bit different. The previous version featured a wild bright green upper with orange flames that looked pretty cool and fast. The updated version has a navy upper and yellow midsole treatment that, like the Elixir update, makes the overall shoe appear clunkier. Not quite the lightweight look of the original. Bummer because the Musha 2 is light at 7.8 oz. Probably will surprise people who haven’t tried on the shoe previously how light and responsive the shoe actually is.
Overall, the updates for the Spring 2010 Mizuno lineup of footwear are spot on. The brand continues to provide the fit and performance unique to the brand while doing a very nice job updating the uppers with cosmetics and materials that are some of the best in the industry in terms of quality of materials used and construction techniques. Fans of Mizuno will be pleased with nearly all of the new offerings for next Spring.