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Where is my bike frame number?

30 April 2023

Nobody likes to think about their possessions going missing or being stolen, but it’s important to prepare for that eventuality to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering your belongings. One thing you can do to improve your chances of finding your bike after a theft is to locate its serial number.

What is a bike frame number?

Every bike should have a number or code stamped somewhere on it to act as a unique identifier. This helps police or other investigators to tell the difference between two bikes that appear identical, so it can be very useful in identifying stolen or missing bikes. Therefore, it’s important that you know your bike’s serial number or have it noted down somewhere separate from the bike itself. That way, should your bike go missing, you’ll be able to tell the police the unique identifier which can help to prove that you are the owner of the bike. 
 
But your bike’s frame number isn’t only worth knowing in the event of theft. As a unique identifier, it will also be vital for things such as insuring your bike, taking advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty, and for registering your bike on cycling registers or databases. 
 
Bikes can sometimes have all sorts of codes on them, relating to specific components, health and safety standards and other regulations. Codes that begin with BS or EN, for example, are usually not the ones you’re looking for. Your bike’s frame number will typically be around six to 10 digits, consisting of both letters and numbers. 
 
So, if you don’t know it by heart, where can you find your bike’s serial number?
 

How to find your bike frame number

First of all, let’s take a look at some places away from the bike where your frame number may be recorded. If your bike has gone missing or been stolen and you can’t remember the number off the top of your head, these places will be your best bet. 
 
Insurance documents
 
If you currently or previously have insured the bike in question, the documents from the insurer should specify the identification number. They might also list other points of identification, such as custom decals or specific components. While the documents may not carry so much weight after the policy has ended, they can still serve as a record of the bike’s frame number in a pinch. 
 
Warranty documents
 
New bikes typically come with a warranty period from the manufacturer which will list the serial number of the bike sold. This is to ensure customers can’t take in a different bike for repairs under that warranty. Keeping this documentation past the expiry of the warranty can help you if you need to find your bike’s identification number in a hurry. 
 
Your bike’s purchasing receipt
 
This option may be more of a long shot if the bike wasn’t bought recently, but if you still have the receipt filed away somewhere, it may have the bike’s frame number detailed on it. When you’re buying a new bike, if the receipt doesn’t have the identification number listed, you can ask for the receipt to be amended to include it for future reference.
 

Where is the frame number on my bike?

If your bike is still within your possession when you come to look for the frame number, you can obviously look for where it is printed on the bike. On alloy frames, the number is typically stamped into the metal - you should be able to use tracing paper to discern the digits if the stamp isn’t clear enough to read normally. On carbon frames, it’s more likely that the identification number will be printed on a sticker - usually with a message stating that removing the sticker will void the bike’s warranty. 
 
You may have noticed that the serial number is often referred to as the frame number, and there’s a very good reason for that. The frame is the most likely location of the identification number, with the underside of the bottom bracket being the favourite spot. If you can’t find it there, try the seat tube, down tube and head tube - or just examine the frame as a whole until you find it.

Why is my bike frame number important?

As we’ve mentioned, your bike’s serial number can be useful in a range of situations. It’s a bit like a car’s vehicle identification number - while not being absolute proof that you’re the owner of the bike, it does lend weight to your claim. It also makes it much easier to distinguish between two identical bikes, especially for non-cyclists who might not know their drop bars from their drivetrains. 
 
However, this isn’t to say that knowing your serial number is all you need. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your bike’s appearance, particularly after you add new parts or personalise it. This is even more important if, in rare cases, your bike lacks a legible serial number. 
 
You should also record these details about your bike on a registration database. This ensures that the police can access information about your bike if it were to be stolen or go missing. You can do this without a serial number, and having the bike registered in your name can go a long way to help you get it back if it is recovered by police.

Useful links: https://www.bikeregister.com/ 
 

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