I 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:
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?
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)
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.
More Harley-Davidson Sportster Resources
- Harley-Davidson demo day: test riding a 2011 SuperLow
- Adri’s fully-loaded 2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 standard model
- 100th Anniversary Edition 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLH-883 Hugger Pics and Specs
- How-To: Stage 1 Kit your Harley-Davidson Sportster
- How to do the oil change on a Harley-Davidson Sportster
- How to change the handlebars on a Harley-Davidson Sportster
- How to tell if your Harley-Davidson is an Anniversary Edition, Screamin’ Eagle Edition, CVO Edition, or a Fake
What about CA? Mine says CAM
Call your local Harley-Davidson dealership, Justin.
Yeah….that would make sense….lol
Let me know what they say. What year is your Harley?
It is 2001, they said it is a regular XL, nothin’ special. Although it is special to me! First bike, gift from wife!
“Get a bike from your wife? Keep her for life.”
We just made up a new classic quote.
I 1005 love it!!
Yeah mine is CAH. So what about .ca I want to know to.
CA is XLH. What year is it, Billy? I just added a bunch of new models to this.
So CA is an XLH? My year is 1984.
Sounds about right. Came stock with peanut tank and solo seat?
As mentioned, if you really want to know for sure, because CA seems to be a bit all over the place, just pick up the phone and call a dealer and ask them.
My 98 sportster 1200s says ch
my 2003 says CAP
It starts with CAP?
I’ll have to look into that.
Did you find what cap is
Haven’t had a chance. Please give your local Harley-Davidson dealership a call.
CA is XLH. Looks like a little Hugger.
I’d really like to know this to, my ’98 says cap
CAP = XLH1200
Mine says CJM? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Could you let us know what the year is please? Thanks!
Mine also has CJM and is a 2003
CJ is XL-883C Custom
i have a 1988 the vin says BH? any clues>
Have you tried calling up a Harley-Davidson dealership to see if they can look up the VIN# for you? They may have a database lookup function.
My case says CFMN110846 tried for days and can’t figure it out …help would be awesome
Hey Alan, have you tried calling a Harley dealership?
Ya I called them , the kid on the phone had no clue about anything . really makes me angry that they actually hire these kids that know nothing about the bikes unless they can read it on the computer screen . I think its a poor representation of the Harley Davidson company !
Hey Alan, it’s a Deluxe model. See updated list above.
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.
Are you concerned it may not be the stock engine?
MINE HAS CKM.
Hey Harvey, what is the full VIN#?
I have 1HD4CFM……883 deluxe.
That would be an XLH.
1HD4CAM Year :1996 883 Harley Davidson, Model :1997 Sportster
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
Vin should be on the right down tube of the frame. Might start with 1HD or 5HD depending on where you’re located.
Mine has 1HD4CM12YK111777
What do you think. My vin reads 1 HD 1CG.
What kind is it. 06′
XL 1200C Custom
hi folks,i’m in Australia ,my vin starts ‘5HD4CM’ , ,..can’t work it out from your guide ?? thank you :)
Is it a Sportster? What is the full VIN#?
yes sportster vin no. 5HD4CJM126K426472
That’s a 2006 SPORTSTER 883 CUSTOM (XL883C). Your telltale sign is the 21″ spoked front tire which only ever came on the C model.
What about older bikes? I have a 1978 and would like info on it… my vin begins with 3A… 3A29169H8… any ideas?
Have you tried calling a dealership?
1HD4CAM Year :1996 883 Harley Davidson, Model :1997 Sportster
just like to know what year my sportster is date on sticker says made 07/94 they told me it was a 95
Hey Dwight. What does it say on your ownership/registration?
What’s CLM mean ?? Thanks.
I have an 02 1200 xl custom is this a factory “low model” looking to add some height to forks with some longer dampers
Hey Will, the 1200 custom would have been a XL1200C. They were always quite low. The XL1200 would have been taller. Might want to get taller rear shocks too.
Yup I’m on it was just trying to figure out which damper length would work best they come in 2 standard sizes 9.5″ inches suggested for “low” models and 11″ suggested for standard sportster. https://trackerdie.com/collections/hard-parts/products/39mm-damper-tube-assembly
Thanks for the help.
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???
See the pictures. They’re all there.
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.
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.
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*
Curious as mine says CEM. Any clue? I’ve looked through here and couldn’t find any matches. ????????
How do you tell if your 93 1200 sportster is an anniversary model or not ?
right under the dash lights (signals, high beam, neutral, oil) you’ll see a little numbered tag on the bracket.
it will say
1993 XL 90th ANNIVERSARY
VEHICLE NUMBER ____/1993
if it doesn’t have that, it’s not an anniversary edition
My 93 1200 Sportster say right on the side of the tank and below the indicator lights “Anniversary Edition “
That’s a 90th Anniversary (of Harley-Davidson) Edition.
I have a 2002 sportster but the vin says CGP. Hopefully you can help me out
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 .
2003 SPORTSTER 1200, probably anniversary edition?
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
mine has cam and is an 89
What is my Harley exactly I was told it was a 2000 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 XL.
What is your VIN#?
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.
Third line from the bottom: CA = XLH Hugger
I have a 2001 1200 xl sportster and need to know what kind of brake caliper to get. My vin says CAP
From the article: CA = XLH Hugger
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