Life

First Ride: Royal Enfield’s Shotgun 650 is a motorcycle with many talents

The new Shotgun is the latest in a quick-fire round of new bikes from Enfield. Jack Evans has been finding out what it’s like.

The Shotgun is the latest addition to the Royal Enfield range
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The Shotgun is the latest addition to the Royal Enfield range (rohan dayal)

What is it?

The enamel-covered elements look and feel great
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The enamel-covered elements look and feel great (Matteo Cavadini info@alexphoto)

The world of custom motorcycles is even busier than ever. People love to make their bikes look more individual and that’s not just restricted to classic motorcycles – people are modifying brand-new bikes too.

Royal Enfield is a brand fully aware of this. It’s why it has launched its latest motorcycle – the Shotgun 650, as we’re looking at here – with one eye on the riders who will want to change it up straight after delivery. But as well as customisation, what else can this brand new motorcycle offer? We’ve been finding out.

What’s new?

The pillion seat detaches easily
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The pillion seat detaches easily

Royal Enfield has put the tried-and-tested chassis that you’ll find being used in bikes like the Interceptor and Super Meteor to work in the Shotgun 650, but there’s a more concerted effort to make this bike as sharp to ride as possible while still delivering a comfortable ride that’ll allow it to cruise when you need to.

The Showa forks are a good indication of this, but as well as this Enfield has finessing the build quality of the Shotgun. It’s why the powder-coated black frame both looks and feels well-finished, while a variety of enamel-covered components push it far more upmarket than other Enfields. All this comes at a very budget-friendly price of £6,899. It’s far more than we’ve seen other models from the brand priced at, but still puts the Shotgun squarely in the cheaper end of the segment.

What’s it powered by?

The paint quality is excellent across
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The paint quality is excellent across (Alessio Barbanti)

As with the Super Meteor and Interceptor, the Shotgun comes with a 648cc, air-oil cooled parallel twin engine with 46bhp and 52.3Nm of torque. As with those other two bikes, this engine performs admirably in the Shotgun with pleasantly smooth delivery and plenty of torque-low down which allows you to make good progress without having to shift through the six-speed gearbox too much.

Emissions of just 99g/km make the Shotgun very clean-running while Royal Enfield’s claimed fuel economy of 62mpg means you shouldn’t have to fill up too often. With fluids on board the Shotgun’s weight tips to 240kg which does make it a fair bit heavier than other comparable models.

What’s it like to ride?

A variety of colours is available for the Shotgun
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 A variety of colours is available for the Shotgun (rohan dayal)

The Shotgun has the look and feel of a proper cruiser, with its mid-mounted footpegs encouraging a more relaxing riding position. However, it’s far sharper to ride than its design lets on with good levels of grip throughout the bend and sharp, nimble handling that makes it feel alert and ready to go.

Naturally, with 46bhp the Shotgun isn’t the quickest out of the blocks, but it’s got more than enough grunt to keep things interesting. There’s decent shove from a dead stop, while the engine’s smooth delivery means that the whole bike feels settled. It’s decent enough at motorway speeds, too, though the lack of any front wind protection means it’s pretty blustery – but the same can be said of any bike with this design.

How does it look?

The teardrop shape tank is classic in design
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The teardrop shape tank is classic in design

The Shotgun appears different from every angle. At the front, it’s got a more classical appearance with the large round light and teardrop-shape tank combining to create a look which is similar to other Enfields. However, it’s towards the rear of the bike where things really change. The pillion seat – which allows you to carry a passenger – can be removed and underneath, the rear frame section can also be taken away for a cleaner look. The rear mudguard is a little ugly in our eyes, but we’re sure that this would be easily swapped out or removed entirely.

In fact, it’s this option which ties into the customisable nature of the Shotgun. It’s a bike which has been revealed at London’s famous Bike Shed – a home of tweaked and custom bikes – and this definitely reflects the Shotgun’s design. That said, if you still want to keep things standard, there are a number of colours to choose from if you fancy changing the look of the bike without breaking out the spanners.

What’s the spec like?

The main dial is clear and easy to read
Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 The main dial is clear and easy to read (Alessio Barbanti)

At just under £7,000, the Shotgun does represent good value for money and is only a few hundred pounds more than the Interceptor 650. Though the two share the same engine, the Shotgun feels tighter to ride and more comfortable thanks to that aforementioned mid-mounted foot peg position.

Each new Royal Enfield model continues to improve in terms of quality, with much of the Shotgun’s switchgear feeling of good quality. The indicator controls do feel a little plasticky, mind you, but the main dial is clear and easy to read with a compact LCD screen showing fuel and trip information. There’s also a compact screen for the bike’s navigation, which connects to your phone via Bluetooth and relays turn-by-turn instructions via your smartphone’s mapping system.

Verdict

The Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 has a series of talents. For one, it’s able to cruise along with little complaint and feels refined enough for those longer days in the saddle. However, clever tweaks to the chassis and ride ensure that it’s still great fun when things get twisty, while the engine has just enough power to keep things interesting – though it’d be nice if the exhaust were a little more characterful.

Enfield’s continually improving build quality shines at the forefront of the Shotgun, too, and given its great pricing, this is a motorcycle which feels like it could prove ideal for many types of riders.