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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 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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  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

    • 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 !

  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

What do you think?


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