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Understanding Motorcycle And ATV VINs

Chaparral Motorsports
September 7, 2015

Why Your VIN Is Important

Why Your VIN Is Important

In the U.S., all cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and other motor vehicles used on the road require a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. Your motorcycle's VIN might not necessarily be worth memorizing, but you should certainly know where to locate the number and what each digit means.

VINs are important because it gives light to the history of your motorcycle. This code is used on vehicle registrations, titles and sometimes insurance cards. VINs are also critical to know if you ever take your bike to the repair shop. Your VIN helps mechanics find the right parts for repair and it's a nice gesture to provide whoever is working on your bike the code beforehand.

Additionally, VINs are necessary whenever you decide to buy or sell a motorcycle. Knowing the VIN of prospective motorcycle will help you know if the ride has ever been in an accident, stolen or damaged in any other way. This information is helpful when buyers are inspecting your bike for sale and it gives you more information and confidence in a purchase when you're looking to buy.

Where To Locate The VIN

Where To Locate The VIN

For the most part, the motorcycle VIN will be on the steering neck, but some models have the VIN placed near the motor by the bottom of the cylinders. You can simply turn the motorcycle's handlebars to look on the right side of the bike and it will be etched into the metal vertically.

For ATVs, manufacturers tend to not follow the same direction. Most ATV VINs are located on the left side of the frame under the shifter, but some other areas include the plastic slit through the hood of the ATV. If you're still having trouble, a quick search on the Internet will tell you right away where to look.

Decoding The VIN

Sample Motorcycle VIN

Your bike's VIN is 17 characters, which consists of information such as the manufacturer, model year, where it was built and the specific model type. All VIN codes are designed the same way. Here's a quick introduction on the basics of your motorcycle's VIN number:

  • First three characters - The first three characters make up the World Manufacturer Identifier with the first digit being the year it was built and the second and third character being the manufacturer.
  • Characters four through eight - This group of characters makes up the Vehicle Identifier Section - which details the portrait of the motorcycle's brand, engine size and type.
  • Ninth character - This character is the security code, which categorizes the VIN as a vehicle authorized by the manufacturer.
  • Tenth character - This character tells you the model year of the bike.
  • Eleventh character - The 11th character explains which plant assembled the motorcycle.
  • Characters 12 through 17 - These last six characters are the specific serial number of the ride.

There are plenty of websites that offer detailed information on the VIN you're searching. However, many websites like charge $25 to do so. You'll be glad you checked the bike's history before you make any purchase.

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