How To Tell The Year Of A Dirt Bike’s Engine?

Tell The Year Of A Dirt Bike's Engine

Have you been using your new dirt bike for a while now? Do you suspect that your second-hand bike is fake? Either way, I’m assuming you don’t know how old your dirt bike’s engine is. Is it that difficult to find the engine number of a dirt bike engine? How can you tell how old your dirt bike engine is? What else can you depict from that myriad of numbers? Will it tell you about the dirt bike’s specifications? Have you ever found a tangible explanation for these answers? 

I was skeptical about this for quite some time too but eventually, I got the hang of it. I also mastered the purpose behind varied symbols and numbers used on the exterior of dirt bikes and their engines. In this article, I’m going to share all the knowledge I’ve been carrying about dirt bikes, their engines, and manufacturing details. I’ll also be diving deep into VIN codes, engine numbers, and their respective ages.

Ways To Tell The Year Of Your Dirt Bike Engine:

There are numerous ways to tell the year of a dirt bike engine, but that varies highly on the type of dirt bike you’re using. Here I explained the ways to tell the year of your dirt bike engine:

  • If Pre-1980: 

Dirt bikes made before the 1980s didn’t have formalized VIN codes like now. If your bike model is from the 80s, then the engine number will differ from VIN and consist of an 11 digit identifier. You’ll find it on the exterior of the engine near the Kickstarter.

You can find this number on your bike’s registration certificate, license documents, insurance papers, or the owner’s manual too. Analyze the first 4 digits before the letter E since these represent the dirt bike’s model number from the surface of the engine. 

You’ll need to look at the number from an angle to get a better view of it. If you want to know the year of your bike’s model then pay heed to the last character of your serial number.

The remaining 7 digits after the dash convey all the information you require about the engine. Match all the details, and you’ll find how old your dirt bike engine is. 

  • If Recent Model:

If your dirt bike is new, you should take help from the chart above to find the exact year of your dirt bike. The engine number can be located easily as it’s stamped onto the right of your bike’s engine. You may also find the serial number on your bike’s motor, head, or title. Take help from your manual if you’re unable to find the engine number. If that number has dashes or spaces in between, your bike is pre-1981. 

You can easily find out what exact year your dirt bike’s engine belongs to once you take a look at the VIN chart that’s provided below. They depict what year or number each character implies. Ex: The 10th digit on your VIN code is S.

Then your bike engine came out in 1995 and it’s 26 years old. Besides, the 8th digit in your official VIN shows the engine code. If you’re still unable to find out the bike engine number, you can tell your manufacturer the codes and they’ll hand you all the details you need to know about your dirt bike.

What Is A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) For Dirt Bikes?

First, you’ll need to understand what exactly a VIN code is for a dirt bike. A VIN code serves as a vehicle’s fingerprint whilst indicating that carrier’s manufacturing year, model, place it was made in, and many more (description limit solely depends on the brand you’re using). Some models illustrate their technological advances and color whereas some brag about the prototype and its refined details. 

Every VIN code is 17 characters long and is a mandatory staple for every automobile. This number can furthermore be found on the insurance and registration cards of your vehicle. They’re sectioned into three groups, making it simpler for the owner to memorize the number if needed. 

VIN codes come in a certain sequence. They’re usually located on the head, back, or motor of the vehicle. In the case of dirt bikes, they’re situated on the bottom bracket or the neck of the bike.

Modern bikes usually have their VINs printed on two areas, the engine case and the frame of the mobile. Most numbers come with dashed lines. Those are not VIN codes. Instead, locate the number that doesn’t include any dashes or spaces since that has to be a VIN. 

What Does Each Digit Of A Dirt Bike VIN Indicate?

You’ll need to know about VIN codes and how they work. The given data below summed up will help you find out the year of your dirt bike engine. Let’s say the VIN of a dirt bike is 1TLP62W4XH128703

(1-3) The first digit indicates where the vehicle was built, and the following two letters reveal the manufacturer. These three characters altogether are deemed as World Manufacturer Identifiers (WMI).

(4-8) The series of five characters i.e 4th to 8th digit explains the mobile’s portrait. You learn about the brand, engine size, and type. This group is titled Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS).

(9) The 9th digit in line is the security code. It recognizes the VIN as being ratified by the manufacturer. In simple terms, it’s used for vehicle identification and to avoid defrauding.

(10) You can find out the model year of the vehicle from the tenth symbol. Here, X is the 10th digit. Therefore, the year of manufacture for this bike is 1999. (Year VIN code breakdown given below)

(11) The eleventh character indicates the plant that assembled this vehicle.

(12-17) The remaining six digits tell you the serial number of the vehicle. It’ll be easier for you to find your bike if you ever lost it by these numbers. This is the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS).

Decipher The Year From A VIN Code:

Here is the more detailed information about VIN Code:


What Is Your Dirt Bike’s Model Year?

Before 1891, there wasn’t any organized format for using VINs, which is why only vehicles built after that period have a legit VIN to confirm their ownership. Your dirt bike’s model year can be depicted by the 10th character in the VIN code. The criterion applies for vehicles that were invented in or after 1981 only. 

Take a look at your bike’s serial number. If you can’t locate it, look for specific parts or ask the shop owner if you’ve brought a new bike. And if you’re unlucky, this is where your VIN code comes into view. You’ll have to report your queries to the NICB’s VINCheck with your VIN code while explaining your situation. You should expect a response within a week.

How Important Are VINs And Engine Numbers?

VINs are like the standard form of a vehicle’s serial number. They’re as important as the clouds in the sky if that makes any sense, and there’s a significant reason why. Those characters are an important number set that determines the vehicle’s identity, the owner’s license, and whatnot. You can learn the whole history of your bike from this 17 digits long number.

For riders, it’s vital to know as much as they can about their bikes. I mean, even for legal procedures, only a VIN code is mandated to be used by manufacturers.

VINs and engine numbers can be found online too. You can search for a random vehicle on a selling website and the VIN will be listed below. A dirt bike engine’s age can be similar to the actual dirt bike’s age.

So, when you buy the vehicle from that site, confirm that the numbers match. When can they not match? If you’re buying a second-hand vehicle then ask the owner if they replaced the engine or any other part of the bike. You wouldn’t have to worry about any of these if your bike is new. Immediately contact the manufacturer or the seller if the VIN codes don’t match. 

There’s a high possibility that your vehicle was either stolen, or the compatible parts of the bike were illegally refurbished if the VIN codes of any of your bike parts and the actual bike itself don’t match.

Although your vehicle could put you in danger, in the long run, you are under the obligation to return the vehicle at once and pay a fine (rate depends on the area) for any traveling or trailing that has been made by the dirt bike. Hence, this is why it’s crucial to know about the model year and codes of different parts of your bike, including its engine.

Are You Supposed To Share Your Engine Code or VIN With Strangers?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your VIN with other people. Keep in mind that a VIN is not related to a social security code at all. When a potential customer wants to buy your bike, or when you buy it for yourself, you can simply hand out your VIN and end the conversation. A VIN contains all the necessary data on a vehicle that a customer will want to know if they intend to buy it. Your VIN code doesn’t contain any type of personal information. So you wouldn’t have to worry about giving off any private info to strangers. 

You don’t have to look hard for the VIN code either. I’m positive that you’ll find the VIN code In your bike’s license papers or registration card. If you don’t have any clue of what its engine number, VIN, or serial number could be, you should search for it online. There are many websites (ex. VIN that’ll help you find out the necessary codes for your dirt bike. Or, you can talk to the plant that provided you with the bike.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Find Out What Motor Your Dirt Bike Is?

Most dirt bikes have the same kind of engine/motor. So, make use of your VIN code. The 10th digit from the left in the series of numbers depicts the model year of the bike while the 8th digit shows the engine codes.

It makes total sense since engine codes before 1980 were 8 characters long. Make note of the eighth digit in your VIN if your bike is new. If you search these codes online, I’m sure you’ll find accurate results on what your engine type is. 

Is It Possible To Find Out Your Engine’s Size Through VIN?

Engine sizes vary. And even though they don’t necessarily depend on anything, it does affect your dirt bike’s performance. The bigger the engine, the more power it produces. But then again, dirt bikes can’t have a large engine as that would make the bike heavier and harder to ride.

You can find the engine size from your VIN by noting the 8th digit and contacting your manufacturer about it. Or you can just search it online by staying home.

What If Your Dirt Bike VIN Code Doesn’t Contain 17 Characters?

Models before the 2000s tend to have 11-13 characters long VIN. Since VIN codes are considered as an identifier of a dirt bike’s whole existence, they’ve been standardized as a 17 characters long code only. But, even a number less than 17 can be deemed as an invalid code in most areas.

Codes with less than 17 characters are also a lot harder to decode and don’t give out much information about the bike. Some sites or organizations could help you with deciphering the VIN code but there’s no guarantee that the number is accurate. This is why even manufacturers themselves say that it’s better to stick to a recent model. 

Can You Change Your Dirt Bike Engine Number?

VINs have the engine number encoded in themselves. It might be possible to change a number or two and replace it with a new number. But know this, VINs depict precisely everything about your dirt bike, and changing it would mean changing the bike’s additional details. This code is documented on all of your papers and online sites. If you’re okay with dealing with all of this mess, I don’t see why you can’t change your engine codes. 

How Old Is Your Honda Dirt Bike?

The 10th digit of your vehicle’s serial number will tell you a lot about the year it was made in. Letters were used to identify an automobile’s VIN before the year 2001. But, since then numbers have been used to find out their respective years. 

Ex: If your Honda was manufactured in 2005, then the 10th digit on your VIN code will have the number 5. Honda bikes usually have a metal tag with the VIN. You can follow the table above to decipher the correct manufacturing year from that VIN code. 


There are different types of vehicles with different types of codes. The only thing common between them all is the VIN code and engine number. They are termed as the easiest way to keep records of a vehicle and categorize them since 1980. 

Even though VINs are typically used when buying old/used bikes, they’re still important if you want to sell them later, or are simply curious about what your little but deadly dirt bike’s engine number is. I hope this article helped you know more about your bike and engine. Happy drifting!

you can check this out also:

How To Clean A Dirt Bike Engine? [A Complete Guide]

Md. Saifur Rahman

Dirt bike riding was a fascination for Saifur since he was a child. Later that fascination turned into a passion and his profession. Apparently, it may seem that tips and tricks are useless for bike riding sometimes, but you may find them really useful after reading his blogs. Saifur is a regular rider.

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