How To Decode A Motorcycle VIN (Explained)

If you are thinking about buying a used motorcycle, then running a VIN check is very important. Buying a second hand motorcycle may be a better option if you do not have enough money, you have bad credit or you are seeking entry level motorcycles.

It can be very intimidating buying a used motorcycle especially if it’s from a private dealer. There’s a lot of fraud and shady people out there and it’s a very good idea to know what you are doing. In this article, we will be looking at how you can easily check the VIN of a motorcycle and what the numbers stand for.

How To Check a Motorcycle VIN

To avoid any unpleasant experiences when buying a motorcycle, you can check the VIN and find out the previous history.

Most motorcycles sold in the United States usually have a 17 digit character and these are made up of a unique combination of letters and numbers.  

The code is used to identify both the manufacturer and the individual bike. The motorcycle VIN decoder is used to determine the meaning and significance of each character.

The code can be found on the vehicle’s frame, although its exact location varies depending on the make and model of the motorcycle you’re looking at. The information below will help you understand better

  1. 1st Character

A VIN’s first character identifies the motorcycle’s manufacturing region.  An A denotes that your motorcycle was manufactured in North America, whereas J, K, L, M, N, P, or R indicates that it was manufactured in Asia.

2nd Character  

The second character, when coupled with the first, indicates the country in which the motorcycle was built. A BMW motorcycle built in Mexico or a Japanese ATV made in Canada is not uncommon. 

3rd Character

Manufacturers of power sports vehicles utilize the third character to identify the vehicle type. For example, it could indicate a motorcycle, ATV, or scooter. Manufacturers don’t all use the same codes.   

Characters 4-9

These characters make up the Vehicle Descriptor Section. Characters 4 through 8 contain details about the model, engine size, and body style options available. Manufacturers don’t all use the same codes. Character 9 is a check digit that determines whether or not the VIN is correct. Through the use of a Weight Factor Table, it is determined from the whole VIN. 

Characters 10-17  

These characters make up the Vehicle Identifier Section. The tenth character denotes the vehicle’s marketing model year, which is not to be confused with its production year.  As it rolled off the manufacturing line, characters 11 through 17 identify the assembly facility, available options, and the production number. 

Where Is My VIN Located?

Where the VIN is located in a motorcycle varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. For most motorcycles, the VIN is usually located near the base of the steering wheel or near the bottom of the cylinders.

A VIN can give you a detailed report of a motorcycle’s history of repairs.

It can also give you a complete record of each of its owners. It can even give you a record of a motorcycle’s odometer history so you can make sure it hasn’t been rolled back and its mileage is correct. The consumer can also find out the data about open recalls.

If you cannot get the VIN of your motorcycle, this is also fine as you can also use the license plate number to get the previous history. You want to ensure that you always use the VIN number though, as a license plate number is not always as dependable.

Performing a free VIN check puts your mind at ease. It lets you know that the bike you’re thinking about buying is legit. That way you can simply relax and enjoy the ride! 

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