A racebike that helped propel young Spencer toward three world titles
May 17, 2021
By Mitch Boehm
Before Freddie Spencer was World Champion Freddie Spencer, or Hall of Famer Freddie Spencer, he was simply a hotshot club racer from Shreveport, La., who devastated his competition just about everywhere he raced. And one of the motorcycles he used to win just about every race he entered was this Yamaha TZ250 — a C-model, which, as Yamaha fans know, means it’s a 1976 model.
The TZ250C (shown above at left) was a bit of a ground breaker for Yamaha and the entire roadracing world, incorporating as it did a monoshock rear suspension system (with both preload and compression damping adjustability) and disc brakes on both wheels — technical elements that would become staples moving forward.
Freddie reportedly rode this particular bike right until the time he hooked up with legendary tuner Erv Kanemoto in the late 1970s, after which his production- and Formula 2-based machinery was sold. It changed hands several times, ending up in the possession of a Mr. Lance Kern, who has graciously allowed the Museum to display it.
The bike itself is no garage queen, and has all the patina you’d expect a club-race motorcycle to have. “Freddie’s painter was someone named Kidd, I believe” says owner Kern, “out of Shreveport, and the fiberglass still has his markings.”
Spencer, of course, fresh off the intricacies of riding finicky, narrow-powerband motorcycles like the TZ, went on to become a true motorcycle racing superstar during the 1980s, adding huge excitement to the AMA Superbike series, where he battled with Hall of Famers like Eddie Lawson, Wes Cooley, teammate Mike Baldwin and many others, and then on the Grand Prix scene, where he won a trio of world championships. His most memorable year, of course, was 1985, in which he pulled off something that will probably never be done again — win two world titles in a single season, 250cc and 500cc.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer. And World Champion. Three times. How cool that here, on this motorcycle, is where much of that started.