Almost all bicycles have a unique identification number engraved into their frame. This number is usually between seven and ten digits long, and it's called the “bike serial number” or “bike frame number”.
Where can I find my bike serial number?
You can usually find the bike serial number on the under side of the bottom bracket. The “bottom bracket” is the part of the frame that the pedals go into.
So all you have to do is turn your bike upside down and have a look…
If it’s not there, don’t worry! On some bikes it will be elsewhere on the frame. So if you don’t see it on the bottom bracket, check:
- Head tube
- Rear dropout
- Bottom of seat tube
- Top of crank
If you're confused by these names, check out my complete guide to the parts of a bike or, I've also labelled them on the image below!
Some Schwinn bikes and Rad Power bikes have the serial number engraved into the head tube. Other Schwinn bikes and some BMX bikes have the number on the rear drop out.
The only bikes that won’t have a serial number engraved somewhere on their frame are either very old or hand made (some bespoke frame makers don’t assign frames numbers).
So if you don’t see it a first, keep looking. I was beginning to think that my old bike didn’t have one before I finally found it at the top of the seat tube!
What does my bike serial number mean?
A bicycle serial number is a unique number allocated to your bike by the manufacturer. It helps the manufacturer and bike shops with inventory, making it easier to match compatible parts to that bike.
Each manufacturer has their own identification system. But the first numbers usually indicate the year, and then month of manufacture. And the remaining numbers indicate the specific ID of that bike.
The best way to read a bicycle serial number is to search the web for “[brand name] bike serial number decoder”.
Why is the bike serial number important?
You will hear many people (including me) banging on about the importance of knowing your bike serial number.
That’s because when your bike is stolen, it’s the serial number that gives you the biggest chance of getting it back.
You use the serial number to register your bike with the various registration schemes such as Bike Index, Bike Register and Project 529. If the police recover your bike, they'll use the serial number to link it to you.
And it’s the serial number that will prove to anyone that the bike is definitively yours.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to matter how much we bang on about how important this is! Because over 80% of cyclists don't know their frame number. Which means that the chances of them getting their bike when it’s stolen are tiny.
So, don’t be one of those people! Go and find your serial number now. Photograph it. Email it to your self. Register your bike with one of the bike registration organisations.
Be a winner!
More Good Stuff:
Bike Parts Diagram
Win a Free Bike!
How to lock a bike (properly)