2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650: First Ride Review

Abhay Verma
The fourth ‘twin’ from the classic bike maker is the most promising one yet

A Royal Enfield for the American market? Umm… Didn’t see that coming! Royal Enfield sprung a surprise late last year by showcasing the Shotgun 650 at its annual ‘MotoVerse’. Okay, fact is, the Shotgun isn’t just for the American market. It’s the fourth motorcycle to be powered by the manufacturer’s immensely popular 650cc parallel-twin engine and a follow-up act to the Super Meteor 650 launched a year ago. The Super Meteor turned out to be highly impressive, but positioned as a dyed in the wool cruiser, it hasn’t cut it with buyers like the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 have. 

The Shotgun 650 was also quick to garner attention around the world as soon as it burst onto the scene in the last week of November last year. It isn’t a motorcycle you can slot into a particular category unlike the previous three 650s that are clear about their positioning though. That said, the Shotgun is pegged as a blank canvas for custom bike builders. Which explains why the press ride was held in the USA – after all, America is one of the biggest markets when it comes to custom motorcycles. Interestingly, we rode the Shotgun 650 in Los Angeles, one of my favourite cities in the USA, as it sits on the world famous ‘West Coast’ in California and is home to some really good riding roads!

I’d missed attending MotoVerse, so the first time I saw the Shotgun 650 in the flesh was in LA. And first impressions were that paint sheen and fit-finish levels are even better than the previous 650s! The overall design is in keeping with the Shotgun’s positioning – low slung, Bobber style, even though it is essentially based on the Super Meteor platform. The ‘classic’ bike recipe exists but with a lot of modern cues and I like the headlamp design, which integrates a full-LED setup like the Super Meteor’s, besides the asymmetrical pods for the instrument cluster. The Shotgun also retains a lot of the Super Meteor’s hardware, including the suspension mounting points and chassis but the design and body work help it look different. 

Wheel sizes are different as well with the Shotgun using an 18-inch/17-inch front and rear wheel set up as opposed to the Super Meteor’s 19/16-inch combination. I also like the fuel tank besides the seat height, which while higher than the Super Meteor’s by 50mm at 795mm, is still very approachable. Attention to detail is excellent – switchgear cubes are made of metal and wear a premium, brushed metal finish and overall, the Shotgun 650 does feel like a high-end motorcycle. There’s also a certain charm to low slung motorcycles that makes them very pleasing to look at and the Shotgun has that charm in heaps. 

That said, as a personal preference I’ve never been fond of bikes sans a pillion seat and if I were to nit-pick that’s my only grouse on the design front. Even the pea-shooter exhausts look nice, especially with their matte black finish and the Shotgun 650 presents a very pretty picture wherever you park it, especially from the rear three-quarter. And the hills around the Angeles Crest Highway we were riding across only amplified this sentiment with their natural beauty. The exhaust note complimented the surroundings well too, as the Shotgun 650 sounds like a British twin should, though of course, it’s all too muted in the interest of a greener planet.  

The Shotgun uses the same 650cc, air- and oil-cooled parallel-twin cylinder engine as the rest of its siblings, in the same state of tune as well. So outputs are the same at 47PS and 52Nm, sent to the rear wheel via the same tried and tested, slick-shifting 6-speed gearbox. It’s an engine-gearbox combination that has only gotten better with time and while it really impressed me with its refinement on the Super Meteor, engine smoothness, fueling and throttle response feel even better on the Shotgun. 

California’s freeways also proved to be the perfect playground for the Shotgun, allowing me to wring the throttle open at will. Gear ratios are well-spaced too, as I discovered on the highway and then in the hills as well. Some of the sections allowed us to hit the proverbial tonne too, and the Shotgun felt perfectly composed and relaxed even at 140-150kmph, as you would expect of a middleweight machine. Of course, acceleration is quick, but a set of lighter, free-flow exhausts should help it sound better, besides also helping make it even quicker. Needless to mention, the chassis and suspension have quite a role to play in the bike’s likeable feel too. 

The 43mm upside down Showa forks felt firm but not stiff on the well-paved tarmac in the USA, and while I’m yet to ride the Shotgun 650 in India, I hear the overall ride quality is more pliant than the Super Meteor 650’s which faced a fair amount of criticism for its stiff ride quality. More importantly, the Shotgun comes across as a far sportier and more engaging machine than all the other 650s. This was a pleasant surprise as given the positioning and steering geometry I wasn’t expecting it to be as much fun in the hills, but with our lead rider, a bloke from Royal Enfield’s UK facility keeping this throttle wide open at every opportunity, we had no reason to not give the Shotgun 650 the beans. 

The bike letting us commit to corners, limited only by the cornering clearance of its low set footpegs. The foot position isn’t as cruiser-esque as the Super Meteor, but the pegs are slightly forward set and you also need to lean ahead slightly to reach the handlebars. The confidence offered by the bike was more than commendable around switchbacks and the Shotgun was in fact egging us to flirt with the law when it comes to the speed limits with its sporty dynamics! Hands down, the Shotgun 650 is the best handling twin from Royal Enfield yet – the front end feels firmly planted, while the revised rear suspension setup (as compared to the Super Meteor 650) ensured the bike held its line even when leaned over fully. I suspect, this affable behaviour is also thanks to some of the ex-Triumph engineers working at Royal Enfield in the UK! 

To sum it up, while the Super Meteor 650 is a brilliant package, it didn’t exactly set tongues wagging in India because ours isn’t a hardcore cruiser country. But the Shotgun 650 I feel is the right approach by Royal Enfield to strengthen its positioning in the increasingly important middleweight segment in India. More importantly, the Shotgun 650 should help RE cement its position further in the space globally, as we have seen the brand emerge as a strong player in international markets over the past half decade. And with its design, performance, dynamics and overall premium feel the Shotgun 650 should help the cause further. As for the prices, the Shotgun 650 retails between Rs 3.59 lakh and Rs 3.73 lakh ex-showroom depending on the variant, which slots it above the Continental GT 650 but below the Super Meteor 650. It would be easy to say that’s a little steep (we all say that all the time, don’t we?), but fact is, this is the best 650 from Royal Enfield yet and I expect buyers to look past that price tag as this is genuinely a motorcycle to fall for. 

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