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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 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:

Harley-Davidson Sportster - What model is my sportster?
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 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?

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)
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

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8 comments

  1. What about CA? Mine says CAM

  2. My 98 sportster 1200s says ch

What do you think?