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Bicycle Frame Numbers:
Did you know, bicycles have serial numbers? This can help you to get your bike back if someone steals it. ...but only if you make a note of the number!
If you get a bicycle, you should make a note of the "frame number". Most bicycle manufacturers put frame numbers (serial numbers) on the bikes they make, and each cycle has a different number. Frame numbers are manufacturer-specific, and can be found under the base or near the saddle or at the front. If you write a diary, you can make a note of the number in it. For example "I bought a bike today. The frame number is 1234567". The reason for making a note of the frame number is that if the machine ever gets stolen, you have a relatively good chance of getting it back if you know the frame number (ten times better chance than if you don't know the number).
Bicycle thieves assume that you won't have recorded the number, so it's up to you to prove them wrong.
Also see Mobile Phone Handset Number which is a similar idea.
Bike frame numbers are also a historical record, and can be used for determining the age of a vintage bike. There are books which have huge lists of bike frame numbers. Not the most interesting of reading, but useful for reference in historical identification of an old bicycle.
According to a bike technical expert at Halfords, all modern reputable manufactured bicycles have frame numbers. The frame numbers are usually under the bottom bracket.