We’re often asked about model year on a bike. And then challenged when a date on the bike is different, or the registration certificate states a different year. This should clear up some misconceptions.
WHAT IS MODEL YEAR?
Often abbreviated to MY, this is determined by the manufacturer for production. Certain colours, specifications, features all apply. Model year is not 1 January to 31 December, rather when the manufacturer runs the production line of that specification. Model years have no reference to the calendar year as brands do not build that model year just in that year alone.
WHY IS MODEL YEAR SO IMPORTANT?
Ordering parts, scheduled service requirements, colours for panels, understanding changes from year to year. In motorcycles, this can be no changes at all to a significant upgrade.
HOW CAN I DETERMINE WHAT MODEL YEAR A MOTORCYCLE IS?
Most brands run a 10th digit in the VIN, which represents the year. A J for example means 2018. But not all brands do this. Suzuki do not. Triumph run the 11th digit. The manufacturer’s systems will be the absolute and can be checked with the full VIN with a dealer.
WHAT IS A COMPLIANCE DATE AND PLATE?
This is the date relating to the motorcycle being approved and able to be sold in Australia. Other referencing includes a Type Approval (a 5 digit number) which links approval nationally for engineering, ADR approvals including emissions, dimensions, weights, power and so on. This is fitted by the manufacturer in the factory prior to boxing and sometimes sent to dealers to fit upon uncrating and assembly.
Depending on the manufacturer the date chosen can differ. KTM for example date the plate the month the motorcycle is built. Ducati however future date theirs to match the year the motorcycle arrives in Australia if shipping goes to plan. The date on the compliance plate does not necessarily match the model year. A MY20 could be built in 2019 and have a 2019 date on the compliance plate.
WHAT YEAR IS ON MY REGISTERATION CERTIFICATE?
In Queensland, this date is taken from a build plate. However, most motorcycles don’t have a build plate, so the compliance plate then is referred. The year on your registration is not referring to the model year of the motorcycle. It could match up by coincidence though. If we register a MY20 motorcycle with 12/2019 compliance date, then the registration will show 2019 year.
WHY IS THE YEAR SPOKEN OF SO MUCH WHEN BUYING?
The car industry is mostly the cause of this. Build dates are on all cars. The specification of a car can change dramatically year to year especially options becoming standard, so it matters to know the model year and build year. A car can sit on the docks for months and months in the weather before being purchased, versus a motorcycle in a crate in a warehouse weather tight. When buying a car you could save big on the purchase price with offers on previous model years, or score features you want on a later model that previously were a pay-for-option. This conversation extends to motorcycles too, even though our industry is vastly different.
BUT MY REGISTRATION IS WHAT GETS SPOKEN OF…
As above, registration certificates the year is by the build or compliance date, which ever is first. It’s a bad habit to discuss the year on the registration, as it’s irrelevant vs the model year of the motorcycle. However, at times its all we have and is easy to obtain, especially from online searches. Be mindful too that dealer or transport staff registering a motorcycle can easily get the year model wrong when establishing registration for the first time. Unfortunately we fix this monthly on traded bikes. To be sure, sight the compliance plate yourself on the motorcycle and check with a dealer what year the bike is.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU FINANCE OR INSURE A BIKE?
This can be a little messy due to lenders or insurers not having a full account of current motorcycle data due to communication from one party to another. A motorcycle manufacturer may not have yet sent data to the lender or insurer, or the lender or insurer may not have requested it. Sometimes our requests on an application or policy may prompt this to happen. Always be sure that the bike you are borrowing funds for, or insuring, is correct. Lenders and insurers at times will instruct us to use something else in the database and make manual notes in the background on internal systems.
I’M ADVERTISING MY BIKE ONLINE AND CANNOT FIND IT.
This could be the database of the site is not up to date. Or, you may find say 2019 model but also showing MY20 in the same listing. You can often request the web admin to update this. We do this quite regularly and attention is given promptly to these requests from quality websites. At times our adverts in the content will provide information referencing to dates and years for those who want to read on and not just look at the images, however if it matters to you it is OK to check with the seller.
CAN YOU HELP WITH MORE INFORMATION IF I’M STILL CONFUSED?
Absolutely. Although selling and servicing and supply parts for motorcycles is our core business, we are all experienced and can provide advise to those who want to know more. Drop us a line or call in and we’ll expand on the above.
Thanks for reading and ride safe.