Bike-scooters/ First-drive/ RE Shotgun 650 | Dual-Barrel, Single-Mind | First Ride Review

RE Shotgun 650 | Dual-Barrel, Single-Mind | First Ride Review

This dual-barrel firearm is taking a single-minded approach though but does it work?

For

Looks, Engine

Against

Weight

Overview

Ruling the rooster comes at a cost. The cost of staying relevant, the cost of catering to a wider spectrum of motorcyclists and the cost of venturing into new motorcycling arenas. In the past few years, Royal Enfield has transformed itself into a formidable force, displaying sheer dominance over its rivals. Ideally, the fight for dominance tires one out but Royal Enfield isn’t resting. At all. After phasing out the Himalayan 411 by inducting the much advanced Himalayan 450, Royal Enfield loaded another bullet - the Shotgun 650! This dual-barrel firearm is taking a single-minded approach though but does it work?

Royal Enfields have been renowned to serve the purpose of a blank canvas for custom houses and individual builders alike. They have been at it for decades and with the Shotgun 650, Royal Enfield is trying to capture that essence and legacy by offering a custom bobber motorcycle straight from the factory. The Shotgun 650 is based on the SG650 concept that caught the attention of the whole world at EICMA but the production-spec formula is slightly diluted. Gone are the hub wheels and all the chrome elements because all internal aesthetic bits of the Shotgun are completely blacked-out. Then there are short fenders, 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel adding to its bobber proportions. One major difference that it has over the Super Meteor is the different sub-frame which can house a rear luggage rack or a pillion seat. In case you wish to keep the rear clean to justify its bobber intentions, doing that is just unscrewing a few bolts away.

The formula might be a little diluted but it is safe to say that the Shotgun has good road presence, further aided by a slightly hunkered down riding stance. You feel majestic while riding the Super Meteor but the Shotgun makes one feel like a rebel. In terms of build quality, the Super Meteor remains the flagship, top-shelf offering from RE because the Shotgun misses out on the aluminum bits. That being said, Royal Enfield has traveled a long way to get here in terms of fit and finish, which shows in the Shotgun as well. The Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 will be available in four unique colorways: Stencil White, Plasma Blue, Green Drill, and Sheetmetal Grey.

While the Shotgun shares many similarities with the Super Meteor like the engine, brakes and suspension components, these two motorcycles offer entirely different flavours of motorcycling. The Super Meteor is a quintessential cruiser while the Shotgun offers a roadster-like riding stance with wide, lowered handlebar and mid-set footpegs. Even the exhaust cannisters are different and the note has a different beat to it.

A sense of familiarity engulfs when you sit on the Shotgun because it feels like a hybrid child of the Super Meteor and the Hunter, given the former’s weight and slight mimicry of the Hunter’s riding stance, albeit a bit more relaxed. Thumb the starter to bring the 649cc, parallel-twin motor to life accentuates the familiarity even more. The power and output figures are similar to the other 650s as well, with a claimed 46.4 hp at 7,250 rpm and 52nm of torque at 5,650 rpm. We have come to adore this powertrain for its refinement, approachable performance and torquey nature. Since it is exactly the same powertrain with the same tune, similar traits are exuded by it. First gear is accompanied by a reassuring thud and the Shotgun moves forward in authority but before you do that, it will remind you of its 240kg kerb weight. It is an experience taking it off the side stand because it feels like you’ve set a slab of concrete in motion but as soon as the wheels set rolling, the weight disappears. It doesn’t take long for the meaty torque curve to cast a magic spell on the rider’s mindset, teleporting him to the land of calmness and authority. The roar of the engine is reminiscent of the other RE 650s but the beat produced by the exhaust slightly differs because I found the Super Meteor to be a little louder and more soulful than the Shotgun. It is still addictive though, the symphony it produces.

While the acceleration on offer isn’t as brisk as, say, the Interceptor but the Shotgun isn’t slow by any margin. Sprinting to see three digit figures on the speedometer is fun, as you’re surfing atop a huge wave of torque. 100kmph from a standstill is dispatched in around 7 seconds but the Shotgun keeps pulling hard until 140kmph, assisted by smooth and precise gear shifts. After 140kmph, this loaded behemoth becomes a little lazy, still not lethargic. 120-130kmph all day long is easily doable for the Shotgun, adding a pinch of versatility and capability to this niche motorcycle. The whole experience is mostly a vibe-free affair with vibrations only creeping in the upper echelon of the rev range.

The sheer weight and riding stance that mimics that of a roadster takes some time getting accustomed to but once you do that, it is a hoot to ride the Shotgun. Given the smaller front wheel and sharper steering geometry, the Shotgun displays itself as a more agile take on the Super Meteor. Once it starts marching on the streets, the Shotgun displays a magic trick where the weight just disappears. It is only felt when you’re going too hard across bends or under hard braking. The chassis, likewise, isn’t a million miles apart, with a stout 43mm inverted Showa fork connecting to a tube steel frame and exposed twin shocks at the rear. The only major takeaway from the suspension department is that the Shotgun makes do with 20mm more travel at the rear and that shows out in the real world. While the Super Meteor crashes violently over rough surfaces, the Shotgun does a better job at masking the undulations. You still ought to maintain civil speeds over undulations because of the limited suspension travel and ground clearance.

Braking-wise, the setup is the same as the Super Meteor’s with two-pot ByBre calipers front and rear and the same 320mm disc front/300mm disc rear, with ABS and braided stainless steel lines standard. When you summon braking’s full prowess, the motorcycle shows signs of distress because the braking components are working at their full chatter trying to anchor this whale. It isn’t a scary ordeal and the Shotgun’s braking is actually impressive but it is just the sheer weight of the motorcycle that worries the dynamics a little.

The Shotgun 650 is a niche motorcycle, presenting itself with a single-minded approach. If your demands are streamlined and they lead to a bobber motorcycle, the Shotgun deserves serious consideration. It is an event riding it solo, but if a pillion princess is involved, get the Super Meteor instead and save your kingdom’s peace.



TopGear Magazine June 2024