First Ride: The 2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 middleweight cruiser

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
Royal Enfield’s modern 650 platform has proven its versatility time and time again on these pages. So when Royal Enfield unveiled the SG650 cruiser concept at EICMA back in 2021, our interest was piqued. Now that concept has found its way into production, in the form of the 2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650.

Developed under the mantra of ‘inspired by custom, for custom,’ the Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 is a more aggressive riff on the Super Meteor 650 cruiser platform, with styling inspired by manga, post-apocalyptic video games, and retro cinema. But how does it ride and present in real life? To find out, we headed into Los Angeles at Royal Enfield’s invitation to test this new machine on some of California’s most iconic roads.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
The Shotgun 650 shares an engine and chassis with the Meteor 650, but little else. Rake is steepened from 27.6 degrees on the Meteor to 25.3, and trail is shortened from 119.38 mm to 101.4. The result is a wheelbase that’s 35 mm shorter for nimble, responsive handling.

A floating solo seat mounts behind the gas tank, much like the concept bike, and a traditional cruiser-style flat-sided rear fender dresses the Shotgun’s tail section. The gas tank shape is something between a Honda CB750 tank and a Harley Sportster peanut unit; yes, it’s a weird crossover, but the shape presented here works very well.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
Like the SG650 concept, there is a cast nacelle that wraps around the headlight and frames the Shotgun’s round gauge systems. Switch housings on the handlebars are cast as well, ensuring that frequently used touchpoints feel high-quality and sturdy. These pieces alone feel too nice for the expected price point.

The Shotgun 650’s funky styling makes it hard to place this model in a single category. The main aesthetic line of the bike is typical retro standard, with standard ergonomics like mid-controls and low-rise handlebars. But the tubular steel frame has cruiser-esque lines and the floating solo seat looks bobber-ish.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
In the past, we’ve seen more generic models find greater success in the custom world, as opposed to bikes that take styling risks like this. Perhaps it’s easiest to envision your personal style implemented on a less unique platform.

We spotted four liveries in our test session, each different from the next and nice-looking from afar. But when you get close to inspect the paint, you’ll see raised lines around the Royal Enfield graphics; some sort of printed cutout vinyl beneath the clear coat even shows small shadows on the ‘Stencil White’ model.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
This would be easier to overlook if it wasn’t directly in front of the rider in each of the four liveries. When so much attention is paid to high-quality details that make the bike feel sturdy and permanent, it’s disappointing for the brand’s name on the gas tank to feel like a cost-saving measure.

Our performance test began in downtown Los Angeles—where everyone’s in a hurry and traffic is dense, but several interstate highways are less than a mile away. It’s loud and it’s hectic, but the Shotgun fits in perfectly. The bike picks up off of its kickstand easily and carries its weight well, feeling nimble and relatively light while maneuvering out of our hotel parking lot and into city traffic.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
From red light to red light, the Shotgun is well-balanced. Gear ratios are shared with the Super Meteor and first-through-third gears are well-tuned, delivering quick acceleration while not requiring too-rapid shifts. Here, the bike is easy to enjoy.

Anyone who’s sampled Royal Enfield’s 648 cc parallel twin knows how easy it is to get along with. Like the Super Meteor, the Shotgun’s mill is setup to deliver 46.3 hp at 7,250 rpm and 52.3 Nm of torque at 5,650 rpm (a hair less power and more torque than the Interceptor).

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
The Shotgun 650 is suspended by Showa Big Piston forks and rear shocks that are 20 mm longer than those found on the Super Meteor, with 18F/17R wheels. Despite the shocks being adjusted to their minimum pre-load adjustment, the rear suspension was stiff, which was accented further by the lack of padding in the seat. The forks were excellent though, maintaining composure and providing excellent road feel at both high and low speeds, without excessive dive under hard braking.

Getting hard on the gas as we entered the highway, the Shotgun pulled strong, easily reaching a smooth 75 mph in fourth gear. But riding here, in fourth gear at 75 mph, made me question the tune of fifth and sixth gears.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
At 80 mph, fifth still felt like I was barely getting into its effective rev range, and shifting to sixth revealed an overdrive’s overdrive that felt like it may come into play around 100 mph. While these may provide some fuel-saving benefits, the Shotgun is just not the highway cruiser that the Super Meteor is.

We left the highway and started up twisty roads that criss-cross Angeles Forest. It’s amazing how 15 minutes on the freeway can bring you out of the bustling metropolis and into one of the greatest riding roads in the world.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
As we climbed, quickly changing direction and curving up the switchbacks, the effects of chassis adjustments from Meteor to Shotgun were clear and highly appreciated. The Shotgun is nimble and felt planted while flowing smoothly through tight and sweeping turns alike. When quick or sharp adjustments were needed, the bike handled them well, maintaining composure and quickly falling back to the intended line.

The brakes on the Shotgun are well-tuned with excellent feel. For the size and style of the bike, the single-front-brake rotor and its two-piston Bybre caliper are surprisingly adequate. Winding through Angeles Crest with its banked turns and smooth tarmac, I found myself in that perfect moment we all seek while riding: flow state.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
Effortlessly moving through turns, the bike behaved exactly as expected and allowed me to appreciate the beautiful surroundings. The world’s view of Los Angeles County does not typically include uninhabited mountain ranges and expansive views of forested valleys.

We descended the mountains and started making our way back into town. By this point, minor aches were starting from the short-reach bars and me hiking my shoulders near my earlobes to adapt, though likely a symptom of my oversized 1.95 m stature. A short highway ride brought us back into the city. I chose to stay in fourth gear over 70 mph and was rewarded with smoothness, while keeping the engine in its higher rev range resulted in more quickly responsive power—all good things.

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review
Compared to the Meteor, the Shotgun’s chassis geometry is ultimately more nimble with more lean angle and better handling in every scenario, but general cruising comfort is sacrificed by the unpadded seat and rear suspension. In a city like Los Angeles, where it takes three highways to get anywhere, one can rarely lean back and enjoy the open road—so the balance struck here really does make sense.

As for the Royal Enfield Shotgun 650’s custom bike aspirations, like most production machines that are developed from a concept, it’s an adaptation of someone’s unique vision. Royal Enfield’s accessories are intelligently designed and versatile, but unique to this model and reliant on the stock design.

But will the custom scene at large embrace it as a platform? Only time will tell.

Royal Enfield

2024 Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 ride review

[social_warfare post_id=78867]