Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250

"Igor" is 52 pounds lighter than stock, with 40 extra horsepower.

Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 on-road action

Some sportbikes get all the love. Poke around any bike night or grudge match at the local strip and you'll find enough tricked-out supersports, liter-class superbikes, 'Busas, and Ninja ZX-14s to keep a thriving performance aftermarket from looking too far outside the bleach box for hop-up candidates.

Not so for Dale Walker, a four-time dragracing national champion with Top Fuel and Pro Street titles to his credit. Walker's Holeshot Performance (holeshot.com) parts business primarily caters to owners of performance standards and streetfighters, plus the occasional adventure bike. Walker has also carved an unlikely niche with an unmatched hop-up parts line dedicated to the Suzuki Bandit 1200 and 1250.

Get Walker talking about his beloved 2007 Bandit 1250—affectionately named Igor, “As in Dr. Frankenstein’s helper”—and you had better have a good charge on your phone battery, as the list of specialty parts and modifications is impressive and long. Walker’s enthusiasm runs deep. He sounds as much like a proud bike owner as the salesman he rightfully is. “I really love the old superbike-type bikes we used to build, the KZs and GSs,” says Walker, who served as a development rider for Kosman Racing and also dabbled in amateur roadracing in the 1970s and ’80s. “Then the Bandit came out in ’97, and it just reminded me of that old superbike era.”

Dale Walker

Has Walker, a 59-year-old coastal California native who has built and raced some mean-ass record-setting fire-breathers in his time, grown soft with age? I certainly admire him for leaving the rat race in his tracks and retreating to the quiet life in Yerington, Nevada, where, ironically, he spends much of his days making noise on the shop’s Dynojet Model 250 dyno developing exhaust systems and parts combinations that populate the Holeshot Performance catalog.

Igor is the test bed for and benefactor of nearly every bit, piece, and machine service Holeshot offers for the big Bandito. This goes beyond engine performance, as Walker has also put a great deal of time and attention into improving the Bandit’s chassis, suspension, and styling.

The first thing I noticed gazing at Igor is the Holeshot Street Fighter fairing ($TBA) and front fender ($169), both signature fiberglass parts formed by Walker himself. The Holeshot/Corbin Street Fighter saddle ($393) has also been sculpted and skinned to Walker’s own specification and made exclusively for Holeshot. The orange/black paintwork is by his good friend Dave Melvin and is laced with pearl in the clear coat that really bursts in direct sunlight.

Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static side view

Working from the ground up are Dunlop Sportmax Q3s mounted on exclusive Holeshot Carrozeria V-Trac forged aluminum wheels ($1,999 a set), the front carrying a pair of Ferodo Brake Tech Axes full-floating rotors ($640) bit by stock calipers loaded with Ferodo pads and plumbed with Galfer steel braided lines. The fork has been treated with a Race Tech Gold Valve kit ($161) and exclusive Cogent Dynamic fork springs ($129) with a Cogent Dynamics custom shock ($675) supporting the rear through Holeshot adjustable suspension struts ($64.95) that can either raise the rear 1.25 inches for canyon carving or lower it by 1 inch for the strip. There’s also a Holeshot billet fork brace ($162) in place to minimize fork flex. Remember those?

The billet aluminum footpeg mounts are one of several bits produced by Metrick Metals, such as the injector/TPS covers, rear master cylinder cap, adjustable shift lever and rear grab rail, and passenger peg eliminator kits with a Cox Racing radiator guard ($89) completing the look. Beneath a Holeshot billet top bar clamp ($59.95) is Walker’s sport-touring bar ($109), a proprietary bend inspired by early ’80s superbikes that’s wider and has a more natural bend than stock. His clever handlebar mirror conversion kit eliminates the stock fairing-mount mirrors, and CRG roll-a-click adjustable clutch and front brake levers ($210) lend a nice touch of class. A Shintz programmable shift light ($129) resides atop the dash in the cluster cleavage while the Heal Tech Electronics gear indicator kit ($191) includes Walker’s own custom mount bracket.

“Walker's bike has crisp throttle response, loads of torque, and nimble, surefooted handling borne of light wheels, balanced suspension, and great leverage from the wide bars.

This brings us to the less visible components that comprise Walker’s Stage 1 engine tune. Internals include a standard-bore forged JE high-compression (12.0:1) piston set ($709) and Web cams ($845) ground to Walker’s specification along with headwork ($799) that involves a Holeshot street port and three-angle valve job. Walker’s ECU flash ($215) raises the rev limit 800 rpm along with some slight ignition-timing adjustments. A Holeshot EFI Supertune Pro ($277) is used for remapping fuel delivery and Walker’s Stage 2 induction setup composed of an airbox mod, secondary throttle valve removal, and K&N air filter. The Holeshot 304 stainless handcrafted 4-2-1 full exhaust system ($1,130) is capped with a 10-inch Bad Boy muffler. Quieter can and core options are also available.

Strapped to the CW dyno, Igor pounded out an impressive 139 peak horsepower at 8,780 rpm netting a 40-horse improvement over our stock 2016 Bandit 1250S testbike. Peak torque of 93.5 pound-feet at 6,030 rpm came in 13 over stock with even greater gains and notably smoother delivery across the upper part of the rev range. Furthermore, rolling Igor onto our scale revealed 480 pounds without fuel, an incredible 52-pound weight reduction!

Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 exhaust system

With formalities out of the way, we headed for the twisty roads of the San Gabriel Mountains with Walker in tow astride our stock Bandit for comparison. Igor feels very content on the freeway with its engine settling into a 5,000-rpm cruise at 80 mph freeway flow with the Bad Boy emitting a pleasing deep tone at cracked throttle. The ride over slab joints was firm without a harsh feeling, and the saddle and bar position offered what felt to be daylong comfort. The stubby opaque fly screen does a nice job of breaking the wind without creating turbulence at helmet level.

Climbing the serpentine Glendora Mountain Road was easy work thanks to crisp throttle response, loads of torque, and nimble, surefooted handling borne of light wheels, balanced suspension, and great leverage from the wide bars. The Bandit’s broad power spread allowed carrying a gear or two higher than normal without breaking a sweat. But half the fun is snicking clutchless upshifts, thanks to the Holeshot Electric Power Shifter 2, an evolution of the very first product Walker brought to market nearly three decades ago. The Bandit 1250 kit ($320) comes with a custom billet CNC trigger unit that resides behind the countershaft sprocket cover.

The brakes provide excellent power and feel, particularly appreciated when charging corner entries on the downhill return run. My favorite aspect of Igor’s performance character was the ease in which I could carry a low-trajectory wheelie through side-to-side transitions in second gear with nothing more than an assertive twist of throttle—an antic the stock bike couldn’t replicate even in low gear.

Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 license plate

All told, Walker’s bike is one bad Bandito that can run with the bulls. And well it should with a grand total for parts and services surpassing $10,000. “But that’s just Igor,” Walker points out. “Most guys who call me with a brand-new bike start with the slip-on and my tune then step by step do the suspension mods. They also come back and add my front header section since I also offer separately.”

Walker says he can get about 27 hp and about 12 to 14 pound-feet more torque from a stock engine without taking the valve cover off. “Now that the bikes have been out since 2007, way more guys call with low-mileage Bandits they got a killer deal on then pick from the Holeshot menu with my help to build their own personal toy. Most do their own work, and I really strive to help them with personal service on the phone, which is really hard to find these days.”

Walker is sincere, and as I said, be certain to have a full charge on your mobile. Or better yet, use a landline.

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 action.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 action.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 action.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 action.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 action.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 static.Jeff Allen

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Dale Walker.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen

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Holeshot Performance Suzuki Bandit 1250 details.Jeff Allen