How to Look Up the VIN Number for a Motorcycle From the '70s

Written by julie duncan
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How to Look Up the VIN Number for a Motorcycle From the '70s
The VIN on motorcycles built in the 1970s can verify the bike's age, make and model. (motorcycle image by Stepanov from

Locating and obtaining the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a motorcycle from the 1970s can provide a potential buyer with a wealth of information. A VIN is assigned today to every vehicle produced so the Department of Transportation can obtain ownership information and prevent fraudulent titles. The VIN before 1981 did not provide ownership information and previous accidents, but was coded to identify information such as the make, model, year and engine.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Look for an 11 to 17 sequence of characters stamped on a tag on the motorcycle frame. Typically, the tag is on the right side of the frame close to the steering stem. This is the motorcycle's VIN.

  2. 2

    Write down the sequence of numbers and characters for decoding the motorcycle's personal information.

  3. 3

    Contact the manufacturer of the 1970s motorcycle and provide the VIN number for decoding or if the VIN is 17 characters, input the VIN on for decoding. The website will translate the character sequence as long as the VIN is 17 characters.

Tips and warnings

  • Before 1981, no universal coding standard existed. For example, a number or character used on a 2005 BMW motorcycle may not have the same assembly code as a 1978 BMW motorcycle built in the same assembly plant.

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