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Does Harley Davidson have paint codes?

Harley Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer, has a long and rich history of offering customers customizable paint options. Since the early days of the company, owners have taken great pride in making their Harley’s paint job their own. Over the decades, Harley has developed an intricate system of paint codes to identify the many colors and finishes available for their bikes. Understanding Harley’s paint code system can be helpful for owners looking to touch up paint, restore a paint job, or simply identify the correct color name.

Overview of Harley Davidson’s Paint Code System

Harley Davidson encodes paint information in a two or three digit paint code that is listed on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate located on the steering head of the bike. This code represents the primary color of the motorcycle, though it does not contain information about any secondary colors that may be present.

Each code corresponds to a specific color and finish combination that has been offered by Harley over the years. Harley publishes detailed paint code lookup tables that provide the exact color name matched to each code. These resources make it easy to identify the proper name for your bike’s stock paint.

Some things to note about Harley’s paint code system:

  • Codes have been reused across different color combinations over the years
  • Codes apply to the primary color only, not additional colors like striping or accents
  • Codes do not indicate whether the paint is a solid color or metallic/pearlescent finish
  • Special order or custom paints may not have a standard paint code

So while the paint code provides helpful clues, it may not tell the whole story of your motorcycle’s specific color configuration. Referencing the lookup tables is the best way to decipher Harley’s codes.

Early Paint Codes: Pre-1980

Harley Davidson motorcycles produced before 1980 used a one or two digit code to identify paint colors. These early codes were simpler than modern systems and did not necessarily uniquely identify a specific color.

Here are some examples of early Harley Davidson paint codes:

Paint Code Color Name
1 Black
2 Silver
3 White
4 Red
5 Blue
6 Gold

As you can see, early codes like “1” for black or “3” white were reused across many different model years. To get more detailed information on the exact shade and finish requires consulting paint code lookup tables.

Modern Paint Codes: 1980-Present

Starting around 1980, Harley Davidson began using a more complex two or three digit coding system to represent motorcycle paint colors. These modern codes uniquely identify a specific color and finish used on a particular model bike.

Here are some examples of the newer paint code formats:

Paint Code Color Name Description
1B Black Denim Solid flat black color used on Softails
2C Daytona Yellow Pearl Yellow pearlescent paint with metal flake
BA Vivid Black Deep solid black used across multiple models

These more complex codes leave less ambiguity about the intended color. However, you still need to look up the specific code to get the exact color name.

Finding Harley Davidson Paint Codes

So where can you find the paint code for your Harley Davidson motorcycle?

There are two main places to look:

  1. VIN plate: Check the 1-3 digit paint code listed on the neck of the frame
  2. Owner’s manual: Code may be listed in the specs section of your bike’s manual

If neither of those locations contain the paint code, you may need to inspect the bike closer to see if it is stamped or printed elsewhere, like under the seat or on the engine case. Unaltered stock paint should have the code in one of those standard locations.

Harley Davidson Paint Code Lookup Tables

Once you have located your bike’s paint code, you can use Harley Davidson’s code lookup tables to get the exact color name and details. Harley publishes detailed tables that match codes to color names across all their motorcycle models and model years.

Here are some places to find the official Harley Davidson paint code tables:

  • Owner manuals – paint code tables are often in the appendix
  • Harley Davidson parts catalogs – check the color/paint sections
  • Dealership reference materials – dealers have access to full databases
  • Online resources – user compiled tables are available online

Consulting these resources provides the best way to accurately identify your motorcycle’s factory paint color using the code. They include information like model year, model family, color finish types, and exact color names matched to codes.

Special Order / Custom Paint Codes

If your Harley has a custom or special order paint job from the factory, there may not be a standard paint code assigned. These one-off paint schemes were optionally available directly from Harley dealerships when the bike was purchased.

Since custom orders did not use pre-defined colors, they may either have:

  • No paint code listed
  • A code that simply states “Special Order Paint”
  • A unique code not found in standard lookup tables

For these bikes, you may need to rely on owner documentation about the original paint job if you want to identify the color. But many custom orders have no formal color name – in that case, you’ll need to match the color visually if an exact duplicate is needed.

Touch Up Paint and Color Matching

Knowing your motorcycle’s complete paint code makes it easier to source touch up paint or do color matching. Touch up paint kits are available from Harley dealers that are pre-mixed to match common factory colors.

If an exact color match is needed for a paint repair or restoration, having the factory paint code helps automotive paint suppliers determine the best pigments to recreate the Harley color. They can often mix paint based on the code and model year if they have access to the Harley color formulas.

Here are some tips for color matching with Harley paint codes:

  • Start with touch up paint kits to match simple colors
  • For complex colors, provide the code to paint suppliers for custom mixing
  • Analyze paint under light to see metallic, pearl, or metal flake
  • Match model year and family for best color replication

Harley Davidson paint codes provide valuable information for repairing or restoring the original paint finishes.


Harley Davidson’s paint codes give owners, dealerships, and painters a way to accurately identify the factory colors used on Harley motorcycles over the years. The codes have evolved from simple 1-2 digit designations to more complex 2-3 digit alphanumerical codes that uniquely identify each color.

Finding your bike’s paint code and using Harley’s official lookup tables provides the best method for decoding the colors. This can help with finding the right touch up paint, color matching for repairs, or determining original paint details. Custom paint jobs without standard codes may need visual color matching instead.

Understanding how to read Harley Davidson paint codes can save time and frustration when trying to keep your bike looking its best. With a little detective work using the VIN plate, owner’s manual, and reference tables, you can become an expert at unraveling Harley’s color mysteries.