Larry Webb – Bike Builder, Race Mechanic, Tuner, Racer, Technician
When Larry Webb left school at sixteen he went to work for a racing car preparation shop. “I started out as the sweeper up,” he said “And it carried on from there.”
A bit later, thinking that it was time he got qualified in a recognised trade, he took up an apprenticeship and became a qualified motorcycle mechanic. Cars always retained their fascination for him though, and he has drifted in an out of four-wheeled racing for most of his life.
It was involvement with a car racing team that led him to start PDQ Motorcycle Developments in 1984. The car team ran into money trouble and could not afford to pay Larry for work he had done. To make things right, they struck a deal. They settled their debt by letting Larry use part of their premises to set up his own tuning business. It was a good start but four years down the road, PDQ needed more room so in 1998, they moved to their current premises in Taplow.
Prior to setting up PDQ, and as well as working in car racing, he had also hooked up with stunt rider Eddie Kidd. He built Kidd’s bikes and toured with him as his mechanic for two years.
He also built and raced his own bikes for a couple of seasons. “I ran an ex works Kawasaki 750 triple which was what I could afford. TZ 750s were the bikes to have though and I was happy if I could be the first Kawasaki home.”
Wanting less weight and better handling, he built a frame for the triple based on the geometry of a Yamaha TZ350. “It spent most of its time on the back wheel,” he recalls. Larry is a fan of the Hossack front end, craftily swiped by BMW after inventor Norman Hossack’s patent had expired. He built several Hossack fronted bikes, including the well known BattleMax which he put together in 1994 using a Yamaha V-Max engine which put out 155bhp – an enormous figure back then.
PDQ has prospered over the years thanks to Larry’s expertise and the knack of getting the right team of people round him. He still gets involved in car racing. PDQ’s premises in Taplow, Berkshire have three dynamometers, one for cars, another for bikes and another that they built themselves to take bike engined cars which are not widely catered for in the UK. PDQ’s dyno setup is one of the best known and most used in the UK.
As well as tuning and servicing work, PDQ are also distributors for many well known manufactures such as Dymag, K and N, Scorpion Exhausts and Valter Moto.
Larry brings a wealth of experience to the Enigma team. When it comes to building bikes, he’s been there and done that and has managed to retain a sharp sense of humour. He’s a radical thinker with a practical streak.
The final assembly of the prototype will be carried out at PDQ’s Berkshire premises where their expertise will be of huge benefit. Larry will also be responsible for the final tuning of the engine to take account of the changes in airflow and the new exhaust system.
Below: There was plenty of unusual bike development taking place in the mid 1990s. PDQ were working on the BattleMax in the UK while in New Zealand John Britten and his team were working on the fabled V-Twin racer. Argument still takes place about who copied what from whom but the truth of the matter is that talented thinkers around the world hit on the same solutions at the same time.