How to Read a Yamaha Motorcycle VIN Number

by Kate Evelyn
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motorcycle image by Bionic Media from

If you need to buy parts for your Yamaha motorcycle or you want to call a motorcycle shop to get repair information, you have to know how to read the vehicle identification number (VIN) of your bike correctly. It also can be interesting to know what it means for your own reference. It may seem like a simple task, but it can be tricky, especially, the first step--finding it. Not all bikes have the VIN in the same place, and older bikes’ numbers can be hard to read because of wear.

Step 1

Find the VIN on your motorcycle. If you have a traditional motorcycle, it will be on the right side of the steering stem, just below the handlebars. If you have a scooter, check the stem. If it’s not there, it will be on a metal plate affixed to the frame.

Step 2

Make sure none of the digits are missing from the VIN. All Yamaha motorcycles made after 1982 have 17-digit VINs. If yours appears to be shorter, some of the digits probably have worn off. Rub the gaps in the VIN with the side of a crayon.

Step 3

Determine what your VIN means by the order of the characters. The first character will tell you where your motorcycle is made. "1" or "4" signifies it is American made; "2" means Canada; "3" means Mexico; and Japan, Korea, England, Germany, Italy and Brazil are "J," "K," "S," "W," "Z" and "9," respectively. The second character represents the manufacturer. All Yamaha bikes should have "C" there.

Step 4

Find the third digit, which identifies the division that manufactured it.

Step 5

Find digits four through eight, which identify the features of the bike.

Step 6

Find the ninth digit, which is a security key to ensure that the VIN is valid.

Step 7

Find the 10th digit, which indicates the model year. These digits run "J" through "Y" for 1988 through 2000 and then switch to a numerical system.

Step 8

Translate the final seven digits as follows: Digit 11 is the plant where the bike was assembled; digits 12 to 17 signify the order in which the bikes came off the assembly line.

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