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Royal Enfield Shotgun 650: First Ride Review

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Vikrant Singh

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Intro

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

This is the Shotgun 650. Or the SG650 as it will come to be known in WhatsApp groups and social circles given our laziness towards typing out long names. It is the fourth iteration on the 650 twin platform, and as we see it, it is the bobber version of the Super Meteor 650, or for the reasons mentioned above, the SM650. The SG sits under the latter in terms of price and positioning, but it is pricier than the Interceptor 650 - or the INT650 - and the Continental GT. But, how similar or different is the Shotgun from the SM650 on which it is based? Crucially, how it is to ride? And should you consider getting one?

The Visuals

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

The Shotgun uses a significantly different design from the Super Meteor. In fact, the bodywork - from the tank to the side panel to the rear fender - is unique to the Shotgun. It also gets an aluminium cowl over the headlamp to give it a more modern streak. The motorcycle looks great; the attention to detail all around, the quality, and the finish levels are strong. The SG650 as a result exudes the aura of a modern, premium, and upmarket motorcycle.

The Package

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

Let's begin with what the Shotgun shares with the Super Meteor. The chassis on the new bike is carried as is from the SM650. The braking and suspension hardware are similar too. And it shares the 650cc air-cooled twin powertrain with the cruiser as well, down to the identical gearbox ratios and the final drive. The two bikes also share the instrumentation, switchgear cubes, adjustable brake and clutch levers, and the lights - headlight, tail lamp as well as indicators.

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

What is new to the SG650, is a smaller 18-inch front wheel. It also ditches the 16-inch rear wheel on the SM650 for a larger 17-inch one. The front fork length has been shortened while keeping the same suspension travel, while the twin shock units are now longer, but again with nearly the same travel as the Super Meteor 650. The braking hardware, however, remains unchanged.

The Ride

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

Let's talk about seating ergonomics first.

The Shotgun now has a higher seat height of 795mm. But, it is still accessible. So for someone who is 5’8” or taller, it is quite easy to put both feet firmly on the ground. The overall seating ergos are comfortable too. The handlebar is flat but not very wide. It is also slightly away from you which pulls your torso forward giving it a hint of sportiness. The foot pegs are further back compared to the SM650 but are still forward set instead of being neutral. And the whole seating vibe on the Shotgun is that of being on top of the bike like on a bobber.

Now, we rode the Shotgun on the less-than-perfect and sometimes bumpy streets of downtown Los Angeles. We then rode it at 120kmph for long stretches on the quintessential American motorway. And finally, we spent a handsome amount of time going up and down some fast and fun winding roads, including the famous Angeles Crest highway.

And overall, the Shotgun came across as a motorcycle that was quick, stable, and dynamically well-sorted.

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

On the motorway, it felt easy, almost vibe-free, and relaxed sitting at 120kmph. And then when we got to the fast and flowing canyon or ghat sections of the road, we were immediately grounding the footpegs without even trying. The motorcycle felt so natural, intuitive, and willing around faster corners that we felt confident pushing it from the get-go.

Now, even though the rider footpeg position has changed on the Shotgun 650 compared to the Super Meteor, the cornering clearance has remained more or less the same. But again, just like the SM650, the Shotgun sits on a long wheelbase. It has a similar suspension setup as well. Not surprisingly then, grinding the pegs on the tarmac barely ever upsets the composure of the bike.

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

Furthermore, the Shotgun changes directions at speed quite willingly. And confidently, if I may add. The smaller 18-inch front wheel - compared to the Super Meteor - helps here. As does the sharper steering geometry courtesy of the shorter fork length. Braking too is impressive. The bite is strong, the feel is good, and the progression is linear enough to use trail braking confidently, even into tightening corners.

Plus, the engine is a gem. It is smooth, it sounds nice, and with the lovely spread of torque in the mid-range— not to mention the quick and linear throttle response - it makes aggressive corner exits a joyous affair. You just pick up the bike exiting a corner, gas it, and revel in the sound and pull of that inline twin. In summary, then, the Shotgun package with its seating ergos, engine characteristics, and dynamic ability makes it easy to like, ride, and enjoy, be it at three-digit speeds in a straight line, or around a well-paved twisting road.

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

On the streets of downtown LA, however - over its bumpy roads and tighter turns - it is a different story. The Shotgun here felt a bit cumbersome and less sophisticated. Firstly, the ride quality - though better than the Super Meteor - still leaves something to be desired. This is mainly true for its rear suspension setup. It can feel harsh and unsettled, and it is one significant downside to the otherwise well-sorted package.

The other issue is its front-end response. At slower speeds, it feels reluctant to hold its line requiring repeated steering inputs. It's not bad, just more work than one would like. The front end also doesn't react well to mid-corner bumps. Instead of absorbing it with grace, brushing it off, and holding its line, it gets agitated. And if the bump is even slightly pronounced the front end can skip, shake, and discourage the rider.

Should I buy one?

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

Like we said at the start, the Shotgun sits under the Super Meteor in terms of price and positioning, and above the Interceptor and the Continental. And after riding it around LA for a day, it is clear it is more versatile than its cruiser twin. It also feels more modern and up-to-date - and in fact more visually alluring - than the INT. Yes, it needs a more absorbent rear suspension. It could also do with more modern instrumentation - like the one from the Himalayan. And it would have been nicer if it was easier to manoeuvre at slow speeds. But, in the end, if you want the 650 twin’s effortless performance and charm in a package that balances old-school loveliness with new-age riding dynamics, while also checking the box on quality, we would say the SG650 is the pick of the litter.

Gallery

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Right Side View

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