When Royal Enfield introduced the limited version of the Shotgun 650 at the Motoverse festival, I couldn't help but think, ‘How different could it be from other RE bikes based on the 650cc platform?’ As I eventually found out, the answer is ‘quite substantially’. The Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer has not only made efforts to make it a good-looking motorcycle on the 650cc platform but also the best handling 650cc Royal Enfield to date, thanks to subtle changes in terms of dimensions, ergonomics, and mechanical components.
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Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 First Ride Review: Design
Now, while the Shotgun 650 is, arguably, the best handler in the entire range, it also happens to be the best-looking of the lot, at least in my opinion. The Interceptor 650 and Super Meteor 650 are handsome-looking machines in their own right, but the Shotgun 650 takes their aesthetic appeal to the next level. Available in lively and vibrant colour options, the Shotgun 650 gets bold graphics across its entire length. In short, it has a very commanding presence on the road and attracts eyeballs in abundance.
At the front, a half-fairing style headlight bezel looks very similar to that of the Scram 411. While I never particularly liked the design of the Scram, here it works perfectly. You also get LED headlights and taillamps, housed in circular retro-style clusters, adding a touch of vintage charm. Another prominent design highlight is the striking blacked-out alloy wheels. Now, while the Super Meteor gets 19-inch and 16-inch alloy wheels at the front and the back, respectively, the Shotgun gets an 18-inch wheel at the front and a 17-inch wheel at the back.
With a 13.8-litre teardrop-shaped fuel tank – 2 litres less than that of the Super Meteor – the Shotgun, surprisingly, tips the scale at 240kgs, which is just 1kg lighter than the Super Meteor. Still, the Shotgun is essentially a heavier motorcycle, considering its dry weight. In terms of dimensions, the Shotgun 650 is shorter in length and wheelbase than the Meteor, which undeniably adds to its handling capabilities, but more on that later.
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 First Ride Review: Ergonomics & Features
In terms of ergonomics, the RE Shotgun 650 is a definite departure from the laidback riding posture of the Super Meteor 650. Here, you get a 795mm seat height, centre-placed footpegs, and a lower, wider handlebar, all of which add to handling capabilities. As a result, what you get is a bit sportier and aggressive riding stance, which gives you a lot more control over the motorcycle.
Now, in terms of features, the Shotgun 650 seems to be somewhat lacking. As mentioned, it gets LED lights both at the front and the back, along with dual-channel ABS for added safety. It also gets a half-digital-half-analogue instrument cluster and RE's Tripper navigation pod. While it does get the right amount of tech and features for a motorcycle in this category, it misses out on the Himalayan's 4.3-inch colour TFT display even as an option, which I think could have made it the perfect package.
However, a nice addition to the Shotgun's list of features is its versatile seating options. The new RE can be used both as a single seater and a double seater, plus the rear seat can be removed altogether to reveal a luggage rack, which is pretty useful for those wanting luggage space for out-of-town trips.
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 First Ride Review: Engine and Performance
The Shotgun is powered by the familiar 648cc parallel-twin motor, which develops 47bhp and 53Nm of peak torque. As I mentioned earlier, the bike feels heavy in traffic or slow-speed conditions. However, once you slot into first gear, all its weight seems to disappear. And as you build up speed, the bike pulls clean and fast like a bull on a rampage.
The biggest highlight of this engine has to be its healthy amount of low-end grunt. However, that's not surprising at all, for it aligns seamlessly with Royal Enfield’s expertise in infusing its motorcycles with lively performance. Now, as the speedometer’s needle climbs further, the Shotgun's healthy mid-range grunt also becomes apparent. The bike has absolutely no issues overtaking in fast-moving traffic and has a comfortable cruising speed of 100 – 120 km/h. Another highlight of the bike is the conspicuous lack of vibrations. If you liked the comfort aspect of the Super Meteor 650, the Shotgun will not disappoint you, for it unequivocally matches or, perhaps, even surpasses it.
In terms of electronic gadgetry, the Shotgun 650 gets none. It doesn’t get traction control, slipper assist, riding modes, or anything else, and honestly, I think that it doesn’t need them either. The throttle mapping is progressive, and the torque curve is flat in most areas. Consequently, it feels quite easy to ride at high speeds. However, the main point of difference between it and its siblings is its brilliant and superior handling capabilities.
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 First Ride Review: Ride and Handling
Now, let's delve into what is my favourite aspect of the motorcycle – its handling. In simple terms, the Shotgun is unequivocally the best handling Royal Enfield I have ever experienced. The changes to its ergonomics and dimensions, in comparison to other 650cc RE bikes, significantly contribute to making this motorcycle an effortless and capable machine in terms of handling. Despite its weight, once in motion, the Shotgun 650 adeptly conceals its heft, delivering a remarkable handling experience.
Adding to its handling prowess is the well-matched wheel and tire combination. Upfront, there's an 18-inch wheel paired with a 100-section tire, while at the back, a 17-inch wheel is complemented by a 150-section tire. This combination ensures that the Shotgun 650 not only feels stable in urban settings but also exhibits unwavering stability at high speeds on open roads. It strikes a balance that offers the best of both worlds.
Furthermore, the front suspension of the Shotgun is shorter than that of the Super Meteor, while both suspension units have been stiffened. As a result, the bike feels pliant while offering an equally enjoyable and responsive riding experience.
Despite its excellent handling, it does have a noteworthy drawback – the heavy front-end feel. Carelessness around corners can catch you off guard, as the motorcycle tends to buck in rather quickly, in contrast to an otherwise predictable and user-friendly riding package. In the grand scheme of things, however, the handling prowess remains the motorcycle's biggest advantage over its siblings.
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 First Ride Review: Verdict
So, is this the best 650cc Royal Enfield you can buy? Well, if I were in the market for a motorcycle that looks like the Shotgun and costs between Rs 3 to 4 lakh, it would unquestionably be my first choice. The Shotgun's head-turning design, versatile performance capabilities suitable for various riding conditions, and the notable improvement in Royal Enfield's overall quality make it a compelling choice.
However, the final verdict would heavily depend on the pricing of the motorcycle. If Royal Enfield manages to position the Shotgun 650 competitively within its segment, it could solidify its status as an exceptional machine, further enhancing its appeal in the eyes of prospective buyers. As always, the price tag will play a pivotal role in determining the success of the Shotgun 650, a machine that already stands out as an impressive addition to the Royal Enfield lineup.