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How to Identify a Kawasaki Dirt Bike

by Jillian O'Keeffe

The easiest way to identify a Kawasaki dirt bike is to carefully examine the bodywork for the make and model printing. However, if this is illegible, you can use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get all the details of the bike, including any recalls, directly from Kawasaki Motors Corporation.

Inspect your dirt bike to see if the Kawasaki make and model printing is still legible. This identification is usually written somewhere on the bike. It can be on the fairings, on the fuel tank, or on the bodywork below or behind the seat. If the identification has worn off, your next port of call is the VIN, which is unique to each dirt bike.

Find the bike's VIN. Kawasaki motorcycle VINs are stamped on the sides of the steering heads, in front of the fuel tanks. If your dirt bike is street legal, your VIN will also be on a safety certification label near, or on, the side of the steering head.

Clean off the VIN so it is legible. If the stamped VIN is worn, use paper and pencil to make a rubbing to pick up the characters. Motorbikes that were built after 1980 have 17-digit VINs, and older bikes have 11- to 17-digit VINs. The post-1980 VINs are easier to decode than the older VINs.

Verify that the second character of the VIN is a "K." The "K" is assigned only to Kawasaki in the VIN code. The first letter will be a "J," for Japan (where Kawasakis are manufactured).

Look at the character in the tenth position of the VIN. This character refers to the year the bike was built. From 1980, the character is a letter from "A" onward, until 2000. For purposes of clarity, the letters "I," "Q" and "O" are omitted from the VIN code altogether and the year code also omits "zero," "U" and "Z." In 2001, the character changes to numbers, so a bike built in 2001 has a "1." This numbering system runs until 2009. In 2010, the alphabet begins again at A. If the make and model of the bike are still identifiable, you will now know the make, model and year of your bike.

Enter the VIN into the Kawasaki online VIN decoder if you want more information or if you still don't know the model of your bike. Choose "Motorcycle" in the first drop-down menu, and then enter your 17-digit VIN to get a free breakdown of the details of your bike. In addition to the previously mentioned coded characters, the decoder will tell you the characteristics of your dirt bike, including engine size, model version and extra options. This information is contained in Characters four through eight, but may not be in order. The decoder will also tell you the assembly location (Character 11) and the production sequence number (Characters 12 through 17).

Tips

  • When using the VIN to identify your Kawasaki, take it directly from the frame of the bike (in case the VIN on your registration papers is inaccurate or fraudulent).
  • If your bike has an older VIN than the 17-digit code, try asking a friendly Kawasaki mechanic for help or call the Kawasaki manufacturer customer service number at 949-460-5688.

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About the Author

Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.

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