How to check the age of your bike - Motorcycle VIN Number.

How to year check a motorcycle frame or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?

I get SO many calls from customers wondering what year their motocross bike was made in that I felt it deserved a blog post.

Unfortunately there are a lot of 'chancers' out there selling their bikes to unsuspecting people as much newer than they actually are. I feel terrible for people as I sometimes deliver the news that the CRF which they believed was an 08 is actually an 04, or sometimes worse.

Where is my frame number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located on my motorcycle?

On every bike I've ever come across the frame number is located to the right hand side of the headstock tube. This is the tube of steel at the front of any motorcycle where the fork clamps bolts through. The frame number/VIN is ALWAYS stamped deep into the frame.

Some bikes have VIN plates but always look for the actual stamped numbers aswell.

Don't be mislead by plates of light steel riveted on here. Some manufacturers do use plates (so they can position the frame number is a second, easier to read, place) but, even if there is a plate, it will ALWAYS be stamped directly into the frame itself.

Another thing to be aware of is that people try to scratch out these numbers and re-stamp fake ones. Be as careful as you can when looking, check the paint, digit alignment.......anything really.

Remember, if something doesn't feel right about a bike when you're looking at it - follow your gut instinct. Walk away if you're unsure because some day you might get an owner looking for their pride and joy back.

On a Honda frame you will notice they have a 17 digit frame number. Honda have been printing frame numbers on every single bike since 1981. With the Honda number pattern the 10th digit refers to the year. So if the 10th digit is an '8' then it's a 2008 bike. SO, then what happens before 2001 you ask? Well in 2000 the 10th digit was 'Y', in 1999 'X' and so on backwards.

As far as I'm aware almost all, if not all, manufacturers use this least for bikes designated for use in Europe. My assumption is that it is the law, however, I stand to be corrected.

On bikes that were not originally built for Europe the system of identification is often different.

Let's look at an example of a motorcycle frame/VIN number:

JH2 =

J = (Japan or Asia)

H = The H stands for I have to explain!

2 = motorbike (it has 2 wheels!)...not sure what the quads have here though.

RC360 = Digits 4-8 refer to the bike model itself.

RC360 stands for a VFR750F Road/Street motorcycle with rear wheel drive. Every bike has a unique identifier. Some bikes even develop their name from this code - remember Joey RC45? That's what the code was.

When looking at the frame/VIN number looks carefully for signs of being tampered with.

5 = the ninth digit, this is a randomly placed code used to make the number completely unique

C = the tenth digit - "the identifier" - a year of manufacture of 1982 as seen on out chart below.

M101581 = the last digits are used to make the number unique. Normally the manufacturer keep these in succession as the bikes come off the production line.

Interesting sidestory: I once had a customer who wanted to return a €6000 bike bacause the frame number ended in '13' . In the end we had to charge him quite a bit as the bike was already registered in his name and would reduce the bikes value otherwise. He didn't care! For no amount of persuasion could you convince this guy to stay with it!




Useful links for checking out motorcycle VIN numbers:

Sometimes if we are having trouble with identifing a bike I use Bikepics. The pics aren't fully reliable as they are owner uploaded but it's a good starting point, especially with some of the older machines.

For decoding Suzuki frame numbers I use THIS LINK.

For Yamaha Motocross bikes this is good for checking frame numbers - HERE.

Remember if you buying any parts from my shop I will check the year to make sure you get the right parts. I hope you find this useful.



  • MotorcycleVIN

    Excellt info and photos. We would also like to recommend our website for some specific motorcycle vin information.

  • Chris Blake

    Good article, I like it. Useful for the future, thanks.

  • Udaya Karunaratne

    My Honda Africa Twin XRV 750 has a chassis number as - RD07-7280828
    So what year was this manufactured in?
    Thank you.


    my 1968 CD175 HONDA HAS ENGINE NUMBER CD175E-1019277


  • Andres Campo

    I've been looking for the VIN on my Kawasaki 125cc and I have found this:
    KHI U006 7070-101012
    Is it a correct VIN/frame No?, or it's just another kind of figures non related to the VIN? Thank you!


    HELP ,I have a honda shadow slasher 400CC (chopper)with nr, NC30-1011891, on the neck;can somone help me to decode this nr,?

  • Lohan

    Hey my yamaha yz 125 vin number is
    JYACE16C000006857 Please help me get the year it was make because i can't find anything :(


    MY Honda only has 11 digit vin.
    how do I find out the year?

  • Rey


    Can you help me out? I have a 96 honda shadow. Vin # 3H1HF0301TD100277
    I'm trying to find out the exact model and engine my bike is so I can order the right parts.


  • Paul

    Hi I have been given a bike ( in bits) goin to put it back together but need some parts I believe it's a Honda vin no is jd05-5200909. I know Honda have 17 digits ?!?!any idea !?

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