Bike Versus Truck: Who Is Top Dirt Dog?
The Late Jeff “Ox” Kargola Helped Us Choose Our Weapon Before His Last Ride
A few months back, the guys at Dirt Rider magazine hit us up, wanting to place a bet on which vehicle would win in a dogfight: a Baja racing-inspired JCR Honda CRF450X or a SuperLite Championship truck. And it’s a great question. Who would win?! Historically dirt bikes have typically been faster in races like the Baja 1000, but what about when you add in some tighter turns and a smaller track?
We knew one guy in particular who raced both trucks and motorcycles and was a great guy to have around, so the call was made to Jeff “Ox” Kargola to bring out his dirt bike and General Tire-sponsored short-course truck to put some validity to the claims.
Little did we know that this would be the last shoot we’d ever get to do with Ox, and that just days later, he’d be involved in a fatal motorcycle accident while riding in Baja Mexico with friends. We’re lucky to have met him, and we hope that he is riding in peace.
Ox was an excellent candidate to perform our comparisons for both magazines, and with General Tire’s and LOORS’s help, we were able to get a day to ourselves at the Glen Helen Raceway. Having Ox behind both vehicles would also make the comparison as fair as possible. He had just won the SCORE San Felipe 250 on the bike and took home the win in Round 2 of the LOORS Series in March.
We are grateful we got to spend the day with Jeff as he showed us his amazing well-rounded skills on the bike and in the truck. He will always be remembered as a great friend to the entire off-road community.
DOB: November 29, 1983
Hometown: San Clemente, California
Favorite Artist: Picasso
Started Riding: Age 12
Turned Pro: Age 16
First Motorcycle: Yamaha YZ80
Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski
Most Memorable Race: 2010 SCORE San Felipe
Accomplishments: 2004 WFA Big Air Points Champion, 2005 Winter X Games Best Truck Silver Medal, 2006 “Big Huckin Chicken” in Burger King commercial, 2009 SCORE San Felipe, 2009 SCORE Baja 500, 2009 SCORE Baja 1000, 2010 SCORE San Felipe 1st Place, 2010 SCORE Baja 500.
Personal quote: “Life is what you make it!”
SuperLite Champsionship Truck
The LOORS SuperLite series is a spec class designed to prove one thing: who is better behind the wheel. The entire field driving the same vehicle keeps the competition high. In Baja, cash has a huge impact on results. Around a short-course in a SuperLite, skill slays all. Something unique to SuperLite racing is their Arrive & Drive Program. Whether you want to just come out and race for the weekend or take on the entire series, they have a package designed just for you.
You get a fully prepared SuperLite off-road race truck, professional pit assignment, professional pit crew that includes a designated crew chief and spotter, all race support equipment, hospitality for one driver and guest, one set of race tires, VP race fuel and a ton of promotional opportunities. Season lease package price is $52,000, which includes all seven races in the series and entry fees. Race weekend rental package price is $7,500 for the single race weekend and entry fees. $52,000 may sound like a ton of cash, but if you’re seriously thinking about racing, the price tag is fairly low. For those of you who do race, think about how much you spent building your last truck, all the money that went into prep, entry fees and numerous other expenses for a race season. The price tag is low if all you’re in for is the thrill and the glory.
Fully-welded 1 5/8-inch DOM chassis w/ driver & passenger side plating & gusseting as mandated by the Lucas Oil Off Road Series regulations
Full aluminum panel package w/ roof panel as mandated by the Lucas Oil Off Road Series Regulations
Fully TIG-welded 4130 boxed trailing arm rear suspension
Fully TIG-welded 4130 boxed upper & lower front control arms
FOX Racing bypass shocks
FPO aluminum front & rear hubs
12-inch vented rotors w/ four-piston calipers
930 CV joints
Mendeola transaxle w/ Weddle gearset
15-inch KMC beadlock wheels
16-gallon racing fuel cell
Six-piece body / black ABS
Kartek power-assist steering
Five-point racing belts
30x9.50R15 race tires
Mazda 13B rotary engine
Racing driver seat
Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda CRF450X Race Bike
We have been on a few bikes in our day, but nothing like the bike Ox raced in Baja. JCR takes a bone stock $7,899 Honda CRF450X and transforms it into a $21,529 speed machine. We aren’t bike guys by trade, so we asked the team at JCR to send over a spec sheet to get a better idea of how much of that stock bike is still retained. In short, not much. That price tag includes the parts listed below plus more, as well as more than $4,000 in labor, which includes Pro Circuit cylinder head porting, JCR motor build including jetting, JCR race prep wheels and JCR race prep frame-up. It is tough for us as truck guys to justify the need for this much bike, but if it were a truck, we would simply smile and say, “Yes, please.”
Pro Circuit suspension tuned to each racer’s individual style and preference
Pro Circuit exhaust and motors
Pro Circuit povides cylinder head porting and key engine performance enhancing components to JCR/Honda
IMS dry break fuel tanks for extra capacity and speed
IMS foot pegs
Dirt Digits custom graphics for JCR/Honda Team bikes
Lucas Oil lubricants
Acerbis hand guards, skid plates and foot peg guards
VP race fuel
Works Connection adjustable clutch perch, aluminum throttle tubes and glide plates
Berkeley Honda oil cooler and starter button case
BRP triple clamps and chain guides
Scotts Performance steering dampener
Seal savers suspension protection components
On The Track
During our test day at Glen Helen Raceway, Ox pushed both the bike and truck to their limits. As unbelievable as this may sound, lap after lap, both the truck and bike finished with the exact same time, 53.1 seconds. Dirt Rider Editor Jimmy Lewis took a turn around the track on the bike to see how we would compare to Ox, finishing with an impressive time of 53.2 seconds. His time behind the wheel of the SuperLite was around 20 seconds behind Ox, but in his defense, Jimmy is a bike guy first and foremost.
Both the bike and truck had advantages and disadvantages on the short course track. The bike accelerated quicker through the flat sections and whoops but did suffer from its suspension being set up for Baja, resulting in a lack of stability coming through turns. Having four tires on the ground helped the truck drift through corners with ease and being setup for this terrain, the truck did not suffer any suspension-packing issues, soaring over each jump. In the end, the bike slightly outran the truck into the turns, where the truck caught the bike every time.
As much as we begged, Jeff didn’t let us take his SuperLite or CRF450X home for the weekend. So, we don’t feel it would be fair to talk about how each of these machines did away from the track. Having owned both bikes and trucks over the years, we can assemble a list of what we think are the good and bad points of owning both vehicles for the average Joe. To be fair, we chose the same number of each for both even though we could think of another 10 reasons why we love trucks.
Dirt Bike: Pros & Cons
- + Lightweight machine that can go anywhere if you have the skills
- + Lower initial cost versus a truck
- + Easy transport
- + Less maintenance
- + Cheaper to race
- - You are more likely to get injured
- - Takes more time getting suited up, even for short rides
- - Riding alone is not advised
- - Need to constantly watch out for much larger vehicles on the trail
- - A small problem could stop your entire ride
Prerunner Truck: Pros & Cons
- + In addition to safety belts, race seats, and a helmet, you’re surrounded by a rollcage
- + You can take friends for a ride
- + Easy to carry additional fuel and supplies for long excursions
- + Possible to drive your truck to the desert and back
- + Air conditioning and heater
- - Higher cost of maintenance and fuel consumption
- - Initial build cost can be very high
- - Expensive to race
- - Can be difficult to work on
- - Tow cost if you break down
Power to Weight Showdown
After the day concluded we were curious about power-to-weight ratio and if that was the reason the bike kept pulling away from the truck in the flat. The bike did end up with a slight advantage, but not by much.
SuperLite truck weight: 2,550 pounds
SuperLite truck horsepower: 250 hp
JCR/Honda CRF450X bike weight: 279 pounds
JCR/Honda CRF450X bike horsepower: 56 hp
Jeff “Ox” Kargola weight: 200 pounds
Truck power to weight ratio: 0.0909 hp/lb
Bike power to weight ratio: 0.1169 hp/lb
Curious what the bike guys had to say? Head out to your favorite newsstand and pick up the September issue of Dirt Rider. We have a new found respect for our bike friends. We first thought the short-course truck would make short work of the bike on the track. We’ll still choose a truck on any given day, but it wouldn’t be horrible to have a bike in tow as backup.