Interpret A Harley Vin Number

If it looks like a Harley, checking the VIN is a way to make sure..

Since its founding in 1903 Harley-Davidson motorcycles have established an image of mystique and lore; bold revving engines, leather-clad bikers in sunglasses and chrome engines glistening in the sun. Beyond the surface however, Harley-Davidson is known for maintaining a high standard of quality for all its products. The vehicle identification number (VIN) on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is not only an important part of registering legal ownership but also a way of verifying that the engine and frame are genuine Harley-Davidson items.


Before 1970

1. Locate the VIN. For bikes manufactured up to 1969, the identification is found on the left side of the engine case. There is no number on the frame.

2. Read the first two digits. This is the model year.

For example: 59FLH1234, is the year 1959.

3. Read the letters. The VIN on a Harley will have up to four of them. The letters represent the model.

4. Read the last four numbers. This number is the production number of the bike.

1970 – 1980

5. Locate the VIN. Beginning in 1970 Harley-Davidson began stamping the number on both the engine and the frame, with the exception of those bikes dating 1979. The number for legal registration is on the frame.

6. Read the first two digits. This is the model code.

For example: 2C12345H5, the model code would be 2C.

7. Read the next five numbers. This group of five numbers is the production number.

8. Read the last two digits. These two digits stand for the last two digits of the model year with “H” meaning “7” and the last digit matching that of the year.

1981 – present

9. Locate the VIN. The number on the frame is 17 digits long, while that on the engine is abbreviated. The number necessary for legal registration is on the frame.

10. Read the first number of the VIN on the frame. This indicates the country of origin code. A “1” means the bike was made in the United States.

For example: 1HD4BFH1XNY123456

11. Read the following two letters. “HD” means the bike is a genuine Harley-Davidson.

12. Read the next number. This is the weight class for the bike.

13. Read the two letters. These designate the model code.

14. Read the next single letter. This is the engine model code.

15. Read the following number. This is the introduction date.

16. Read the next letter. This is the check digit.

17.Read the next letter. This is the model year code.

18. Read the next letter (the last letter of the sequence). This is the location of manufacture code.

19. Read the last six numbers. This is the bike’s serial number.