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Harley-Davidson Sportster - What model is my sportster?

Identify What Model of Harley-Davidson Sportster You Have

Custom SportsterI came across someone who was restoring a 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle he recently bought. He was doing an awesome job rebuilding it, but he had a question: “What model of Harley-Davidson Sportster do I have?”

It’s an important question to know the answer to. The Sportster has been in production since 1957 and to this day comes in a wide variety of models and variations. The Sportster model you have could be Low, 883R, SuperLow, Iron, Nightster, Custom, Standard, Roadster, or more. While 80% of parts are interchangeable, getting the wrong Sportster parts for the others can result in different lengths at suspension and at the forks, the wrong tires, and more.

I took a guess based on a picture of his motorcycle:

What model of Harley-Davidson Sportster do I have?
My guess was it was an ’05 Standard model.

Standard model sportster should have:

  • front and rear mag rims
  • mid controls come stock
  • seat height should be 29″ (tallest of the sportster models)
  • shocks should be around 13″ from “eye” to “eye”

How to tell what model Sportster you have

It’s all in the VIN # located on the motorcycle’s frame.

Where is the VIN # on a Harley-Davidson Sportster?

Sportster XL-883 VIN #
Up close your VIN # should look like this.

Example Sportster VIN #

The letters below (4) (the 5th and 6th characters in your VIN number, beginning with the letter C) represent what model of Sportster you have.

For 883cc Sportsters:

CN = XL-883 Standard (like my 2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster)
CP = XL-883C Custom (typically has a solid rear rim and wire spokes on the front rim)
CJ = XL-883C Custom
CR = XL-883L Low (typically has spoked rims front and rear)
CK = XL-883R
CS = XL-883R (which would have 2-into-1 exhaust, mag rims, and dual front disk brakes)
CMM = XL-883 Low (sent in by reader Art M from PA)
CM = XL-883L
CE = XL-883H
CF = XL-883 Deluxe
CN = XL-883
LE = XL883N

For 1,200cc Sportsters:

CT = XL-1200C Custom
CG = XL 1200C Custom
CV = XL-1200R Roadster
CX = XL-1200L Low
CW = XL1200L Low
CY = XL-50
(2007, 50th Anniversary Sportster)
CZ = XL-1200N Nightster
CH = XL 1200S
(1998, dual spark plug heads, may have also had two front disk brakes)
LA = XR1200
LD = XR1200X Probably the best Sportster ever made… Just sayin’…
LC = XL1200X Forty Eight
LF = XL1200V Seventy Two
LH = XL1200CP
(1200 Factory Custom)
LJ = XL1200CA
(1200 CA Custom)
LK = XL1200CB 
(Sportster 1200 Custom B)


Others/Miscellaneous Sportsters:

CA = XLH Hugger (mixed history, from 900cc, 1,100cc, 883cc and 1,200cc, this one includes Deluxe, Huggers, and even Confederate Editions and is kind of a nuissance to tell without knowing the year of the bike)
CB = XLS Roadster 
(1,000cc Ironhead, 1979-1985)
CC = XLX (1,000cc, 1982-1985)
CD = XR-1000 (1,000cc, 1983-1984)

Soon we’ll have a list of how to decode your entire Sportster’s motorcycle VIN# to discover where it was intended for sale, what size it came stock, when it was introduced, and more.

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. What about CA? Mine says CAM

  2. My 98 sportster 1200s says ch

  3. my 2003 says CAP

  4. Mine says CJM? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

  5. i have a 1988 the vin says BH? any clues>

  6. My case says CFMN110846 tried for days and can’t figure it out …help would be awesome

  7. I called up the local dealer. I have 1HD1 CAP. It’s a regular base 2002 Sportster 1200. I do find it odd that my engine isn’t plain aluminum. It’s black with the edges of the fins bare.


  9. I have 1HD4CFM……883 deluxe.

  10. 1HD4CAM Year :1996 883 Harley Davidson, Model :1997 Sportster

  11. can someone help me find whether or not this a vin or a serial number? its on the side of the engine. its a 2000 Harley Davidson Sportster (883-1200) i cant the difference and its a bike im planing on buying

  12. Brandon Schoenthal

    What do you think. My vin reads 1 HD 1CG.
    What kind is it. 06′

  13. hi folks,i’m in Australia ,my vin starts ‘5HD4CM’ , ,..can’t work it out from your guide ?? thank you :)

  14. What about older bikes? I have a 1978 and would like info on it… my vin begins with 3A… 3A29169H8… any ideas?

  15. 1HD4CAM Year :1996 883 Harley Davidson, Model :1997 Sportster

  16. just like to know what year my sportster is date on sticker says made 07/94 they told me it was a 95

  17. What’s CLM mean ?? Thanks.

  18. I have an 02 1200 xl custom is this a factory “low model” looking to add some height to forks with some longer dampers

  19. I am just about to but a whole lot of Harley parts. One of the bare frames has “CW423A” where the VIN is usually located. This is a new one on me. Anyone any ideas???

  20. Pictures? Sorry, am I being thick???

    • Right in this article you’re commenting on, it says “Where is the VIN # on a Harley-Davidson Sportster?” Under that is a diagram of a Sportster frame. Both potential VIN locations are numbered in the diagram. It’s always in one of those two places.

  21. Right, I’m with you. The “CW423A” is located in position number 1. I am having a hard time trying to identify the actual model as it doesn’t follow the ruling for a usual VIN. I have only had experience with the 17 character numbers ( I am not an expert ). I sort of assume that it is an XL1200L but that is as far as I have got. Cheers for your time.

  22. Hi, I bought an xtra sportster engine, having a hard time finding out when its made. Can you assist me? It should be an hugger model.
    Number on crank case; *RS11X000072*

  23. Curious as mine says CEM. Any clue? I’ve looked through here and couldn’t find any matches. ????????

  24. Samuel Cervantes

    I have a 2002 sportster but the vin says CGP. Hopefully you can help me out

  25. 2003 XLH 1200 100th Anniversary MFD 07-02 (* 1HD1 CAP 133K 400139* ) (Not a Hugger) (not a custom ) ( not a two tone ) it dose not say Hugger or Custom .

  26. Sportsters , you really have to own ride and maintain one to really be a fan I am……07 883 low w/1200 kit /love it 19k

  27. mine has cam and is an 89

  28. What is my Harley exactly I was told it was a 2000 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 XL.

  29. Hi, Adrian.

    I have a 1992 HD XLH 883, but am not sure if it’s a Standard, a Hugger, a Deluxe or something else.

    VIN# 1 HD 4 CA M 1 5 N Y 206763

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  30. I have a 2001 1200 xl sportster and need to know what kind of brake caliper to get. My vin says CAP

  31. Hey I’m happy to find this site i have a 2006 sportster but it is different on the carburetor cover it says super low and on vin check it says xl1200 my vin is 1hd1cwp4x6k447910

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