Model Info
Service Info
Tuning Info
Project Info Dedicated to the thorough proliferation of information regarding the technical aspects of (mainly) Honda V4 motorcycles.
Legal Info

Honda Motorcycle Model Recognition

It can sometimes be important to be able to determine the market in which a particular motorbike was intended to be sold. Global manufacturers such as Honda make up to a dozen or more different versions of each model in order to comply with the various applicable governmental safety, emissions, performance, lighting, noise and labeling regulations in effect throughout the world (see below). With the relative ease with which motorbikes can be exported and imported from one market to another these days, it is quite possible to end up with an "import" version and not realize it—until expensive replacement parts are ordered which either do not fit, or result in degraded performance. And, even if you realize you've got an "import", establishing which foreign market it was built for is sometimes quite another matter.

(For a more complete look at the actual market-specific part number and equipment differences on RC36 models, see this page.)

There are several ways to help determine where a particular motorcycle was first intended to be sold and, thus, its original equipment and specification. Official registration documents often indicate when a vehicle was first sold in a particular jurisdiction and whether it was declared "new" when first sold there. But even these official documents can be manipulated or erroneous, as they rely upon declarations made by importers. Unfortunately, the potentially most reliable way to determine a particular bike's original destination, its frame and engine serial numbers, is hampered by the fact that the information provided by Honda in its publicly-available Parts Lists and Microfiche is insufficient to conclusively determine, in most cases, the country or region where a particular bike was first sold (or intended to be sold). Bikes originally destined for the U.S., Canada and Australia have unique frame numbers in the VIN format, and Spanish models have a slightly different format, but, until the late 1990's, ROW models have had very similar-looking—and not necessarily sequential—frame numbers. Presumably, Honda has access to definitive lists of frame numbers indexed to the locations where those vehicles were first sold, but such information is not (currently) widely available to the public.

As illustrated in the following excerpt from the VFR750FL-P Model Info page (compiled from Honda Parts Lists and Microfiche), a bike with the frame number RC36-2003441 could have been originally intended to be sold in the U.K., Finland, France, Germany or for "European direct sales". Engine serial numbers are, unfortunately, no more enlightening.

Year Code Region Colors Engine #s Frame #s Carb ID #s
1990 L U.K. Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2000085 to 2013323 RC36-2000067 to 2010938 VDJ4A-A
European direct sales Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2003483 to 2013413 RC36-2003441 to 2011020 VDJ1A-A
Finland Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2002657 to 2011116 RC36-2002625 to 2009054 VDJEA-A
France Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2000321 to 2013367 RC36-2000297 to 2010982 VDJ1A-A
Germany Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2000076 to 2011907 RC36-2000060 to 2009630 VDJEA-A
Italy Italian red; Granite blue; Pearl crystal white RC36E-2004198 to 2010414 RC36-2004116 to 2008478 VDJ1A

However, carburetor numbers can help narrow down the country of intended sale. In the above table, and using the same frame and engine serial number example, if the bike has a carburetor code of VDJ1A-A, it would appear to have been a motorcycle originally intended to be sold in France or for "European direct sales".

At this point, there are no further serial numbers to check, but there are still differences between the two specifications that can be discerned from the international Honda VFR750FL-P Parts Microfiche. This source shows that French-spec models, for example, carry the designation "Carat" on the left and right upper fairing panels. Other differences among various specifications include paint schemes, seat colors, lighting equipment and camshafts, but some of these are very difficult to check—and all bets are off if the bike has been modified at all from its original configuration... Home Copyright © 1999-2011 [Source: Various Honda Parts Lists and Microfiche]