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 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.
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