Understanding Motorcycle VINs and Submodels

Finding out a motorcycle's model is pretty straightforward. However, finding the VIN and submodel is a little more complicated.

Finding motorcycle VIN and submodel

On most bikes, the model (i.e. Yamaha YZFR6, Honda CRF450R, Kawasaki Ninja 400, etc.) is found on the fuel tank, fairing or side covers. But what about the submodel?

Motorcycle Model vs. Motorcycle Submodel

The model is the name used by the manufacturer to identify and market a particular type of motorcycle. 

Motorcycle submodels

However, most manufacturers offer several variations of that particular motorcycle. These variations are the submodels. For example, one variant of a particular model might be supplied with a full fairing, while another variant might be supplied without a fairing. 

The Importance of Knowing the Submodel

The contrast between submodels can be anything from the paint color the motorcycle comes in, to mechanical variations such as a different braking system. 

Motorcycle submodel variations

Mechanical variations mean you'll need to know your motorcycle's submodel when buying replacement OEM parts and accessories. Differences between submodels can also affect the retail value of the motorcycle, so insurance companies often require submodel information before writing up an insurance policy.

Determining a Motorcycle's VIN and Submodel

To determine the submodel of a particular motorcycle, first you'll have to get the vehicle identification number (VIN). 

Motorcycle VIN and submodel information

The VIN is usually stamped on the neck of the motorcycle's frame or on a VIN plate attached to the neck. You'll also find the VIN on your motorcycle's title, registration and insurance documents.

Since 1981, all motorcycle VINs consist of 17 characters that can be broken down as follows:

  • First three characters = world manufacturer identifier or WMI 
  • Next six characters = vehicle attribute section
  • Final eight characters = vehicle identification section 



Character 1 = Country of manufacture

Character 2 = Manufacturer

Character 3 = Vehicle type


Character 4 = Vehicle category

Character 5 = Engine displacement

Character 6 = Engine type

Character 7 = Model design

Character 8 = Model type

Character 9 = Security mark validating the VIN


Character 10 = Year code

Character 11 = Place of manufacture

Characters 12-17 = Serial number


Once you have the VIN, you can determine the motorcycle's submodel and buy replacement OEM parts. 

Partzilla.com has every vehicle model and submodel listed to make it easy to find the OEM parts you need for your particular machine. Shop with us to get the lowest online retail prices on genuine motorcycle parts, guaranteed! 


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