The Shotgun 650 is made for customisation. With metal bodywork for easy mods, and plenty of genuine accessories, you could go nuts with one. But it also happens to be a great ride... Pics: RE ANZ

In December I hit Los Angeles for the launch of the Royal Enfield Shotgun 650, the fourth 650 Twin model, joining the Continental GT, Interceptor and Super Meteor. It was an epic ride but mainly on smooth roads. Now I’ve just ridden the bike on our bumpy streets… How did it go?

In and around ACDC Lane in central Melbourne CBD. The Shotgun is a brilliant city scratcher…

A freezing cold Melbourne morning is a far cry from sunny Los Angeles, Cali, where I last rode the Shotgun 650. It’s a busy workday morning, and the bustling streets of Melbourne are perfect for putting the Shotgun to the daily grind test and let’s face it, most of these bikes will have to do this task at least a few times per week before being set free on open roads on weekends…

Taking on the busy Melbourne streets during peak hour traffic. That’s Adrian Sellers in front of me, the designer of the Shotgun 650. We certainly had expert company along for the test…

The launch evening is just a casual meal and a few drinks, where we have the opportunity to chat about the bike. The following morning, we have a comprehensive presentation from Royal Enfield’s International visitors, Senior Manager, Marketing, Rajan Pillai... “As a pure motorcycling brand, there are three key elements that define Royal Enfield, these being Legacy, Exploration and Customisation, something that is extremely close to our hearts”…

Shotgun designer, Adrian Sellers… “Inspired by custom, for custom, this is how we define the Shotgun. It is a motorcycle we intentionally avoid associating with a specific category. We wanted to start with something fresh and new. Royal Enfield have a rich history of customisation”… Rajan and Adrian are available all day, and Adrian rides with us as well. It is great chatting to him, getting an insight into the processes of design.

My bike is in Green Drill, and has the bar end billet alloy mirrors fitted. They’re fitted upside down for aesthetic reasons. They look awesome, but they are hitting my knees, so we soon swap them back to the upper side, the same as they were on the bike I rode in the USA. They’re great little mirrors, you can download the Royal Enfield Accessories catalogue here.

We swapped the accessory mirrors to the upright position pretty soon after we headed off. They look good down, but were hitting my knees in traffic turns. The Shotgun corners well, and is great fun on the smooth twisties.

After a two-hour slow speed urban slog that only saw us travel 25km, a trip that would be unbearable on a sportsbike, but was fine on the Shotgun, we had our first stop for a quick caffeine fix. Nothing different with the bike to what I experienced in LA aside from a heavier clutch than I recall (but the good news is the clutch was correctly set as the one I rode in LA was engaging just a few mm off the grip) and a harder seat. But in truth, the ride was one of those bad luck runs of slow truck after slow truck, and just about every red light. It was a true test of commuting duties and the Shotgun passed…

The urban riding highlights some great features of the Shotgun. Features that are shared across the 650 Twins range, being a great rear brake, with plenty of feel and power, a smooth clutch action, good throttle mapping at low speeds and a really easy chassis balance for walking pace to 15km/h… But like all motorcycles and us riders, we need space and rpm.

Eager to seek out some typical Aussie motorcycling roads, I headed off with the pack of journo’s for another hour or so run. The ride was again plagued by constant slow trucks or cars ahead, and we didn’t have the chance to really open the throttle-body, aside from on the photo stops, where the Shotgun proved itself again to me as a great bike with decent acceleration, sweet steering (this is a highlight) and an engaging chassis. But we certainly got the chance to hit some bumps…

There’s no denying the Shotgun, all road bikes, is happiest on smooth stuff, where it is a good cornering machine.

As mentioned, the LA ride was mostly smooth. My recent test on the Super Meteor 650 had me disappointed in the lack of suitability of the rear suspension for our conditions, which are generally higher speed that India, with large sections of corrugations, undulations and potholes thrown in. I’d say most of us are a little on the heavier side too, thanks to the fast food diet (speaking for myself I guess)!

“I was surprised how good the Shotgun was at the back compared to most cruisers on the market”…

I found the SHOWA forks absolutely spot-on for my 100kg weight and the Aussie roads, even under braking. At the back, I had to add just as single step of preload to each shock, which was just right, giving a small amount of extra support and ride height, and stopping the harsh hit at the bottom of the stroke over the big bumps. I was surprised how good the Shotgun was at the back compared to most cruisers on the market. It definitely takes advantage of all of its limited travel range. Impressive.

“I found the SHOWA forks absolutely spot-on for my 100kg weight and the Aussie roads, even under braking. At the back, I had to add just as single step of preload to each shock”…

Cornering clearance is something to be aware of, the ‘pegs do touch down early, but it has more cornering clearance than most in the category. That doesn’t mean fun can’t be had. Not so much here at the Aussie launch, which was a slow affair, but in LA, we were really pushing these things hard and I reckon that the Shotgun 650 is the nicest handling of all the bikes in the 650 range.

I’d love to try a Continental GT or an Interceptor with the SHOWA forks… I did ride a nice custom GT once that was amazing, and had my own INT 650 pretty well set up, even did a track day (you can have a giggle at the clip of that here) but the Shotgun is better.

Dubbed by RE as a blank canvas for the customiser, it’s powered by the same 650cc engine as the others. The internals are unchanged including the gearbox ratios, fuel injection system and ignition. The final gearing is even the same as the Super Meteor (thought the rolling size of the rear wheel would be larger, therefore longer gearing). The frame is also the same as the Super Meteor, but from that point, the rest of the parts that make up the Shotgun are unique to the model, including the all-metal bodywork (yes, the panels and even guards are steel, as demanded by the Indian market).

It features 18in front and 17in cast alloy wheels (120 F and 150 R), ByBre brakes (single front and rear rotors), SHOWA SFF forks that are non-adjustable, and revised re-tuned twin preload adjustable SHOWA shocks are also featured. It comes in a wide range of colours and there are loads of accessories available for those that want to add some individuality to their ride…

L to R: Sheetmetal Grey, Plasma Blue, Green Drill, Stencil White.

So does the Shotgun 650 pass the Aussie test? Absolutely it does. It’d make a great daily rider, that will add enjoyment to ownership by doubling as a hobby for anyone interested in customisation, and it will also make a great weekend bike with just enough power and torque to get out of town… Some riders might want to upgrade the shocks and seat for more comfort, but generally, it will do the job…

Aside from the above points mentioned that are specific to Aussie riding, I’ll recap on my LA test, which was a ride through Downtown LA and up into the hills for some of the best roads I have ever ridden on in all my years travelling around the world testing bikes for a living (someone has to do it)…

Town and highway upright manoeuvrability is spot-on, yet as the pace increases, the quick initial turn remains but lean from upright to ‘pegs on the deck is very progressive and there is no sudden fall, nor is there any sign of stand-up over bumps or while braking mid-turn. It’s got a beautiful, sweet chassis and geometry. Very stable, too, no high -speed weave like on the Interceptor and Continental GT. Suspension both ends is on the firm side for a cruiser. I’d say on the sportier side. I can’t believe I’m saying ‘sportier’ and ‘cruiser’ but the Shotgun does blur that line between sports naked and cruiser. I’d say it is up there with the best of the handling cruiser segment bikes, if not at the top of the pile.

A big surprise for me are the CEAT tyres, they’re good. I forget they are on the bike as I throw the Shotgun at turns pretty much as hard as I can. The CEAT hoops do not budge, and I’m braking hard to the apex at times. It’s dry, so I can say they are really good in the dry… Ground clearance is the limiting factor, as expected. But that is the price for leg room and comfort. I’m touching the footpegs down regularly, but this is a chassis that will allow for quick cornering and minimal lean angle.

“A big surprise for me are the CEAT tyres, they’re good”…

The brakes are good for a single-disc front set-up. I always feel the 650 Twins range could do with a second front rotor, however, one is sufficient. The rear brake is oversized and very powerful, appealing to the Indian market, which generally still favours rear brake over front among the masses, anyway There is plenty of good feel and modulation at the front lever and the ABS works well.

Up the back, the rear is a tad sensitive and overpowering at first. Around town, the rear brake is fantastic and helps control the bike. It’s a very un-intimidating braking package that will be great for new riders along with the experienced among us. The seating position, for me at 187cm, is very comfortable. Knee flex is close to a neat 90 degrees, the reach to the alloy handlebars is spot-on, the controls fall to hand well and the levers include span adjustability, the switchgear is all easy to use.

The seat is well shaped and looks cool, it was comfortable for the first 45m to one hour, but from that point it did get a little uncomfortable for me personally. There is no room to move around on the seat, which is strange at first, but I get used to it. The Shotgun is a solo machine, but there is an accessory pillion seat that doubles as a luggage rack, which is a cool idea.

“I’m touching the footpegs down regularly, but this is a chassis that will allow for quick cornering and minimal lean angle.”

Engine performance? You don’t feel the brisk acceleration and torque like you do on a Continental GT or Interceptor. Like is the case with the Super Meteor, additional weight does become noticeable here.  Cruising is no issue; the Shotgun 650 will sit on 110km/h all day long with ample on tap to overtake. Around town, there is plenty of go off the lights and the 40km/h to 80km/h range is fun and the Shotgun seems to have acceleration on tap anywhere in any gear between those speeds, and it sounds pretty good too at the lower speeds, but as soon as some wind noise comes in the exhaust and intake are drowned out. A more open set of pipes would be on my list!

The clutch is light in action, the gearbox action/shift is silky smooth, both up and down, and the gear-lever is in a comfortable position for my size 12 boots. With a slipper clutch, clicking down the ‘box into turns means there is no rear wheel hop, and I found I can carry good entry speed on the Shotgun, for a cruiser that is quite an achievement by Royal Enfield.

Overall, I’m highly impressed by the Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 after both the world launch ride and the Aussie ride. To me, it feels the most refined of the 650 Twins yet. It is smooth, comfortable, has fabulous suspension and friendly confidence-inspiring geometry. The ergonomics work for me and should work for a wide range of shapes and sizes. I just know it turned a lot of heads, and it put a smile on my face, and that is what motorcycle ownership is all about, bringing joy and satisfaction…


2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Specifications

Price: From $11,590 Ride Away
Warranty: 3 year factory warranty & 3 year roadside assistance
Colours: Stencil White, Plasma Blue, Green Drill, Sheetmetal Grey
Claimed power: 35kW [47hp]@7250rpm
Claimed torque: 52Nm [38ft-lbs]@5650rpm
Weight: 240kg wet
Fuel capacity: 13.8L
Fuel Consumption Claimed: 22km/L
Fuel Consumption (measured): N/A

Engine: SOHC air and oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin four-stroke, eight-valve, 78mm x 67.8mm bore x stroke, 9.5:1 compression, 270º firing order crankshaft, Bosch EMS/EFI
Gearbox: Six-speed constant mesh Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch, cable actuation

Frame: Steel tubular spine frame
Rake: 25.3º Trail: 101.4mm
Suspension: 43mm Upside Down SHOWA BPSF forks, 120mm travel, non-adjustable, twin SHOWA Shocks, 90mm travel, preload adjustable.
Brakes: 320mm disc, twin piston floating caliper (f), ABS, two-piston, 300mm rotor, twin piston floating caliper (r) Wheels: Cast alloy. Tyres: 100/90 – 18 CEAT (f) 150/70 – 17 CEAT (r)

Wheelbase: 1465mm
Seat height: 795mm
Ground clearance: 140mm
Overall width: 820mm
Overall Length: 2170mm
Overall height: 1105mm

Instruments & electronics: Dual clocks, tacho, speedo, dual trip, warning lights/fuel.
Electronics: Bosch Two-Channel ABS, Bosch EMS, USB point, LED headlight, LED taillight

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