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 didn’t know what model of Sportster it was.
It’s important to know what Sportster model you have, examples: Low, 883R, SuperLow, Custom, Standard, Roadster, etc. While 95% 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 of 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)
CR = XL-883L Low (typically has spoked rims front and rear)
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)
For 1,200cc Sportsters:
CT = XL-1200C Custom
CV = XL-1200R Roadster
CX = XL-1200L Low
CY = XL-50 50th Anniversary Sportster
CZ = XL-1200N Nightster
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.
- 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