Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 review
- Value for money
- Entertaining ride/handling
- Good looking
- Standard OEM tyres
Royal Enfield’s new Shotgun 650 is a funky looking performance cruiser for the masses!
The Shotgun 650 is one of those bikes that on the face of it seems like a very sensible idea; you take one bike, make some modifications and then spin it into a new model aimed at a new audience. It’s not always a good idea though, and sometimes these crossover bikes can be a little bit tepid.
To find out whether Royal Enfield had built a minter or a minger, we flew out to the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, for a pootle through the Downtown area and a blast through the mountains that encircle the craziest of crazy cities.
The launch event was partly hosted by the good people at the Bike Shed Los Angeles, the sister club to the famous (and original) Bike Shed in Shoreditch, London. It's a long way to commute for a beer and burger, but if you are ever in LA and can make it to the Arts District it's well worth a look!
What is the Royal Enfield Shotgun 650?
As mentioned, the Shotgun 650 started its life as the Super Meteor 650, a bike that is best described as a pretty standard retro cruiser. On the face of it, the Shotgun looks like a slightly funkier-looking version of its sibling, but from speaking to the team that created it, there is a lot more at work here than a simple visual refresh.
The most notable change is the stance of the bike, and to achieve this Royal Enfield has lowered the front and raised the back, with the new bike running 43mm Showa forks that are 33 mm shorter, and rear twin-shocks that are 20 mm longer than the items found on the Super Meteor. These changes affect the bike’s geometry quite drastically, with the Shotgun boasting a wheelbase of 1463mm and a steeper rake of 25.3 degrees - the Super Meteor has a more easy-going 27.6 degrees and a wheelbase of 1,500mm. The final piece of the geometry puzzle is more conventional and slightly sportier wheel sizes, with an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel on the Shotgun, as opposed to a 19/16-inch combo on the Super Meteor.
The heart of the bike is pretty much the same as found on the other 650s, meaning an air and oil-cooled SOHC 648cc parallel twin with four valves per cylinder. The 270-degree crank engine has performance figures almost identical to its stablemate and the other 650s, with 46.4 hp available at 7,250 rpm and 38.6 lb-ft of torque at 5,650 rpm.
The only other real change is the weight, and the Shotgun tips the scale at 239kg, which is still chunky but marginally lighter than the 241kg Super Meteor.
Price compared to the rivals
The new bike will be starting at £6,699 for the base model in Sheet Metal Grey, rising to £6,799 for the Plasma Blue and Green Drill bikes. The top-spec bike is the one you can see being ridden below in Stencil White and that comes in at £6,899.
To find a true rival for the Shotgun in the UK market we have to look to China (via Italy) and the Benelli 502C (£5,499) and Japan with the Kawasaki Vulcan S (starting at £7,299). Both are fairly close to the Shotgun on specs, and about right on the price. The Benelli though will probably not wear its miles quite as well as the two bikes from more established names, and finding a Benelli dealership near you can be like trying to find neutral at a red traffic light!
Is the build quality any good?
It’s a question that comes up in the UK, basically with any bike not built in the UK, which is weird as we hardly build any, but it’s worth talking about. Royal Enfield has made huge strides recently, and while the Indian firm might not be totally on the same level as a brand like Triumph, they are getting much better. The casings are one area that has improved massively, and the coatings used across the whole bike look great and seem to be pretty robust even when battling through a British winter! I don’t expect the Shotgun to fare any differently.
The switch gear on this bike and the last few Royal Enfields I’ve ridden has also been great, with a nice chunky and robust feel, and the right amount of attention has been paid to the actual aesthetics of the stuff bolted to the handlebars.
What’s it like to ride?
To start this ride we had a couple of miles of traffic light bingo in Downtown LA, and it gave me an hour or so to get to grips with the low-speed handling of the bike. First impression, it doesn’t feel like a 240 kg bike. The seat is low, as is the centre of gravity and it’s responsive enough in first and second gear to not feel sluggish when getting away from the lights or making last-gasp overtakes. The potholes around town are a little bit jarring, but I find with all these sporty cruisers they are set up on the firm side.
I am, though, liking the gearbox, which is backed up with a slip/assist clutch so the endless gear changes aren’t yet giving me arm-pump. It’s mid-set controls on the Shotgun, although they are a little further forward than I’ve found on some other bikes. While that does make the riding position quite a bit more comfortable, I’m not sure they’ll last an afternoon of canyon carving in the mountains.
After a mountain-top lunch break, we slip off the freeway and onto the stunning Angeles Crest Highway and onto the roads that could make or break this bike. We start off slow, as is sensible, and start to carry some more lean angle and begin to feel out the Ceat hoops. It doesn’t take long to get the thing decked out on both sides, and as the speed rises every turn is serenaded by that distinctive SSKKKRRRTTTTTCH as the hero blobs cry enough.
Abusing the footpegs I might be, but I’m unable to fluster the little Shotgun. It’s a very sweet handling little cruiser. The bars kick a bit if you hit a bump mid-corner, but the rest of the bike doesn’t seem fazed by it, and it just tracks the line neatly and carries on unflustered. With 47 bhp on tap you are going to have to work hard to go fast, but the Shotgun seems to be up for it, and as long as you don’t mind carrying corner speed and trusting the chassis, it’s more than up to shaking a tail feather on a twisting road.
Another point of note is the braking system. It’s all ByBre kit on the bike backed up by a 2-channel ABS system. You have a 2-piston calliper front and rear, the front disc is 320mm and the rear 300mm. The rear brake is super sharp, great around town and for tightening a line in a faster turn, although the front is much more progressive. There is a fair bit of breaking power to be found though, but you’ll need to give the lever a big heave. The limiting factor though will be the tyres, and I suspect most UK owners will ditch the OEM rubber within a few hundred miles and opt for something a little more sporty.
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Verdict
To say the Shotgun was a pleasant surprise is a bit of an understatement, it’s actually a very entertaining, great looking and easy to ride bike. There are no modes to fuss with, no IMU to flummox and just the bare minimum of ‘toys’ in the form of the Tripper navigation system to keep it feeling up-to-date. The comfort is okay for a couple of hours in the saddle, although with a 16-litre fuel tank it’s not like you’ll be planning many big riding days. There is also enough performance on tap to keep more experienced riders entertained, and enough tech to keep the kids entertained.
The best thing about the new Shotgun though is the cost of the thing. For a bike that is so competitively priced, you get a good looking bike, that looks and feels nicely put together, and that can handle like not many other cruisers in this A2 segment can.
Test ride bookings and retail begins across Europe from the 1st February 2024.
More details at Royal Enfield Motorcycles
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Parallel-twin 270-degree crank
4 Stroke, Air-Oil Cooled, SOHC Engine
47 bhp @ 7,250 rpm
38 lb-ft @ 5,250rpm
Max range to empty
Steel, twin-spar tubular frame
43mm Showa USD no adjustability - 119 mm travel
Twin-shock - 88 mm travel
Single 320mm disc, two-piston calliper
Single 300 disc, one piston calliper
Front wheel / tyre
Rear wheel / tyre
239kg ready to ride