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VINs Explained

VINs According to Honda:

In the front of every Honda motorcycle Parts Catalog (microfiche) relating to bikes sold in the United States is a section entitled "Construction of Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.)"

Background on VINs:

As far as U.S.-spec Hondas are concerned, the reason for the use of VINs on bikes (and other vehicles) sold in the United States has to do with federal law and the regulations promulgated thereunder, ostensibly "to simplify vehicle identification information retrieval and to increase the accuracy and efficiency of vehicle recall campaigns." Effective with 1981 model vehicles, these regulations required that all such vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States carry a unique number, determined pursuant to a specified formula, permanently and prominently attached to the vehicle's chassis or frame.

For unknown reasons (unknown to, anyway), Honda model designations have for many years used the same year designation single-digit code system (i.e., the "L" in "VFR750FL" denotes a 1990 model VFR750) on all models sold throughout the world. Canadian models have used the VIN system for nearly as long as the U.S. models; Australia and Spain switched over in 1989; Austria, Germany and Italy in 1996; and Switzerland in 1997. (As of 2003, France continues to use its own, unique model designation system.)

An Example:

Where used, the Honda motorcycle VIN consists of four sections of characters grouped as follows:

(a) The first section consists of three characters occupying positions one through three (1-3) in the VIN. This section uniquely identifies the manufacturer, make and type of the vehicle, as in the example VIN below (Honda Motorcycle, manufactured in Japan, according to the Honda table):


(b) The second section consists of five characters occupying positions four through eight (4-8) in the VIN. This section uniquely identifies the following attributes of the motorcycle: type of motorcycle, line, engine type, and net brake horsepower. (Note, however, that while the regulations require that this section's meaning be reported to the federal government, that meaning need not correspond exactly to the characters used in this section of the VIN. For example, under this scheme, Honda was required to report the net brake horsepower of the 1991 model 49-state VFR750F to the appropriate U.S. federal agency, but the horsepower figure itself was not required to have been contained in the designation "RC360"):


(c) The third section consists of one character occupying position nine (9) in the VIN. This section is the check digit whose purpose is to provide a means for verifying the accuracy of any VIN transcription. After all of the other characters in the VIN have been determined by the manufacturer, the check digit is calculated by carrying out a simple mathematical computation. If any character in the VIN is incorrect, the check digit will calculate incorrectly:


(d) The fourth section consists of eight characters occupying positions ten through seventeen (10-17) of the VIN (for motorcycles, the last four (4) characters of this section must be numeric), as follows:

  1. The first character of the fourth section represents the vehicle model year. The year is designated as indicated in the following table (1991):


    1980 A 1987 H 1994 R 2001 1 2008 8 2015 F 2022 N 2029 X 2036 6
    1981 B 1988 J 1995 S 2002 2 2009 9 2016 G 2023 P 2030 Y 2037 7
    1982 C 1989 K 1996 T 2003 3 2010 A 2017 H 2024 R 2031 1 2038 8
    1983 D 1990 L 1997 V 2004 4 2011 B 2018 J 2025 S 2032 2 2039 9
    1984 E 1991 M 1998 W 2005 5 2012 C 2019 K 2026 T 2033 3
    1985 F 1992 N 1999 X 2006 6 2013 D 2020 L 2027 V 2034 4
    1986 G 1993 P 2000 Y 2007 7 2014 E 2021 M 2028 W 2035 5
  2. (The table used to end at 2013, but was updated in 2008 to now end at 2039, indicating either that the manufacture of motor vehicles will have been phased out by the U.S. federal government by then, or maybe nothing at all... <g>)

  3. The second character of the fourth section represents the plant of manufacture (Hamamatsu, Japan, according to the Honda table):
  4. JH2RC3605MM101581

  5. The third through the eighth characters of the fourth section represent the number sequentially assigned by the manufacturer during the production process:
  6. JH2RC3605MM101581 Home Copyright © 1999-2016 [Source: Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Section 565.15]