Royal Enfield 650 Shotgun – Review

Back in 2019, not long after it was launched onto the market, I rode a Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor. What a cracking bike. A highly impressive machine that has fully deserved the burgeoning sales it has enjoyed in the UK and elsewhere ever since. The Interceptor left a strong and very positive impression on me. Riding another one has always been on my agenda. The launch of the new 650 ‘Shotgun’ derivative seemed the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I kinda like the name

A Touch of Frost

This is a new variant, less obviously pitched at the ‘retro-classic’ market. It is best thought of as the ‘Bobber’ of the expanded 650 range.  The Shotgun package is mainly cosmetic and aesthetic, but this is no bad thing: The bike has cool-stance, and the stripped back vibe is well augmented the gloss black engine cases. The green and black graphics/paintwork have the air of a military specification despatch bike. I like that.

The bike has a good stance

All this is good stuff. I have not even got on the bike yet! I know that looks are a very subjective thing, but I think the Shotgun is a great looking machine. Cool, even. Not something that could always be said of Royal Enfield in years gone by.

Felt at Home Immediately

Getting aboard I was greeted by a low seat height, such a delight for a ‘stumpy’ such as I, and a comfortable, natural feeling riding position. The foot-pegs are a straight drop and your feet find them almost without thinking. Once onboard the riding stance is upright, but on the relaxed and chilled side.

The clocks are simple, stylish and easy to read. Just a large circular unit for the speed and other functions. This is paired with a smaller unit that is the display for the simple satellite navigation system Royal Enfield use. I didn’t try this on my ride, but I have spoken with couple of owners who have found it surprisingly effective.

Clocks and controls are simple and effective

All the controls are simple and easy to use. Many bikes these days have so many features that the controls required are so complex as to be distracting. The Shotgun has was it needs, presented crisply and logically. All were satisfyingly easy to use, feeling solid and well made.

Pulling away I felt at home straight away, the 46bhp motor provides a surprisingly good level of performance for the type of riding this bike is designed around. Some parallel twin engines can sound a little ‘tinny’ and asthmatic, but the unit fitted to the Shotgun has a deeper, richer tone. Especially when compared with a Yamaha MT-07 or Kawasaki Z650RS for example. I am sure that aftermarket pipes will be a popular option too in the future. But as a factory system, with all the regulatory restrictions that brings, the bike sounds good.

Natural Environment

I covered around thirty miles or so while I was out. Enough to get a good handle on the general feel of the bike. My ride took in a mix of A&B rural roads on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border. The Shotgun swept around the bends with a well-balanced feel. I wasn’t pressing on. But the bike was confidence inspiring in the bends and the ride was firm and well damped. I didn’t really notice the brakes, and that is a good thing. They dealt with what they had to. The effort at the lever is well weighted and the feel good. The bike had a flow to it and this kind of typically English rolling countryside really does feel like it’s natural habitat.

Both colours look great, but I like the military vibe of the green example

Obviously on a short test ride it is not possible to comment too much on quality and reliability. What I can say is that the fit and finish is very good. Well defined castings and mouldings, deep paint and the deep black engine cases looked very well finished. This is not an expensive bike at just under £7000, but it doesn’t betray that price at all. In fact, it looks like a more expensive machine.

The Interceptor, on which the Shotgun is based, has been on the market since 2019 and has earned a reputation for reliability. So, I don’t think the Shotgun will give owners much trouble.

The 650 engine is in a gentle state of tune so fuel consumption should be good, and tyre wear low.

Overall then what we have a stylish, capable well-made bike at a very attractive price. Form an orderly queue here.

I was so impressed I have only gone and bought one!

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly

Thanks to Midwest Moto for the use of their demonstrator