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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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30 comments

  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.

  8. MINE HAS CKM.

  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?