Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 review - new cruiser tested in LA!

A motorcycle being ridden along a canyon road

The Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 feels a bit like an accidental performance cruiser, and Visordown flew out to Los Angeles to test it!

There isn’t really another A2-ready cruiser on the market that rides as nicely as the Shotgun 650
Easy going, good looking and a lot of fun to ride
Vibey handlebars, suspension is on the firm side

It was EICMA 2021 when Royal Enfield revealed its STG650 concept, a 'dystopian' cruiser with wild custom features. Fast forward to 2023 and I’m standing in Downtown LA in front of the production version of that bike, the slightly less dystopian, but equally cool Royal Enfield Shotgun 650.

It’s a bike that's related to the already available Super Meteor 650 (SM 650), sharing a frame and engine with the more relaxed cruiser, but that’s really about it. Royal Enfield’s engineers have promised us it’s also a very different beast to ride, and I’ve got a mixed day of riding ahead to try and find out just how different it really is.

After starting in the middle of LA, we’ll be threading our way through Glendale and eventually hitting the legendary Angeles Crest Highway, where we’ll be testing the Shotgun’s mettle on some canyon roads.

What’s new with the Shotgun 650

The frame, swingarm, and engine are all borrowed from the Super Meteor, and bolted to that frame is suspension that helps to define this bike over its stablemate. The forks are the same 43mm non-adjustable Showa items, although they are set up specifically for the Shotgun, offering less travel (33mm less than the SM 650) and with bespoke damping and spring rates. The rear shocks are also changed, and while the front gets shorter units, the rear gets items that are 20mm taller, giving the bike a very different vibe. 

The change alters the geometry of the bike, and the Shotgun has a steeper rake (25.3 degrees) less trail (101mm) and a shorter wheelbase (1,463mm). The Shotgun also gets new wheels and tyres, with Royal Enfield replacing the 19-inch front and 16-inch rear of the more relaxed cruiser with a more responsive 18-inch front and 17-inch rear combination.  The idea with all the changes is to flip the handling characteristics of the Super Meteor (which is a fairly leisurely bike to ride) and make a sharper turning, more direct and dynamic machine.

The engine of the Shotgun is the same as the other bikes in the 650 range, meaning you have an unintimidating 46.4bhp (providing automatic A2 compliance) and 38.6lb ft of torque.

Technical updates aside, the new Shotgun 650 is a very different-looking bike compared to the Super Meteor 650. It’s not quite a clone of the concept seen in 2021, but there are enough reminders of the STG650 dotted about it to remind you where it came from. The fuel tank, mudguards and headlight nacelle are all new or revised, and the engine features a moody blacked-out finish that ties in nicely to the paint of the Stencil White version you can see me riding here.

The new Shotgun 650 will be hitting UK dealers in March 2024. The base model is the Sheetmetal Grey bike, which starts at £6,699.

Next up we have both the Plasma Blue and Green Drill bikes, £6,799, and finally, the Stencil White bike as ridden, £6,899.

On the value-for-money front that stands the Shotgun in good stead against the competition which is, weirdly, the Super Meteor it’s based on. On price alone, there isn’t a colour variant of the SM 650 that can match the more youthful and dynamic-looking Shotgun.

It’s also worth noting that the bike comes with both a single-seat and a dual-seat from the dealership, and all it takes is a handful of bolts to change. You can even swap out the pillion seat for a little luggage rack should you want to carry some overnight kit.

What’s it like to ride?

First impressions of the bike are gleaned from a ride through the bustling streets of Los Angeles, and so far so good. It’s not a light bike (239kg with fuel and fluids) but the weight is mostly below the fuel tank, meaning it still feels manageable. The steering does feel a tad on the heavy side at a standstill and when moving very slowly, but when you get up to speed the bars have a nice weight to them. The brakes feel surprisingly strong, considering you only have two-piston callipers at both ends, and like pretty much every other Royal Enfield I’ve tested the rear brake is sharp and direct, with ABS that doesn’t yet feel overly intrusive. 

The biggest changes made to this bike are to the geometry and wheel sizes, and while we might only be making 90-degree turns so far, it does feel dynamically very different to its sibling. Where the SM 650 is fairly lazy to turn and can be upset by throttle inputs once it’s in a corner, the Shotgun feels much more direct and great for snatching last-gasp overtakes on crowded city streets.

The suspension is on the firm side, and I’m bracing for impact at the sight of a bump, lump, or sunken manhole cover. The shockwave up my body is accentuated on a bike like this, as with mid-set footrests and a riding position that is akin to sitting on the loo, the energy from the bump has nowhere to go but straight up my spine. It’s not as bad as I’ve experienced on some other performance cruisers, and at least Royal Enfield gave the seat a decent amount of padding to try and soak some of it up.

The cockpit of the bike is a nice place to be, and as I’m waiting at the first photo stop for my turn I start to have a look around, but there’s not much to see. An analogue speedo surrounds a small LCD screen that can display your trips and crowns the headlight. Off to the right you have the Tripper navigation system which uses Google Maps and provides you with turn-by-turn navigation. On the technology front, though, that’s about it. There are no riding modes, no ABS to adjust (there is a two-channel system that is on all the time), and no traction control at all. Some may call that archaically basic, but I think it’s quite nice to have a bike that, even in the modern age, is devoid of such distractions. 

It kind of makes the Shotgun feel like a proper old-school British roadster of the ‘70s, and as I head off for my photo run with the exhaust reverberating off the warehouse doors it does have a sniff of a classic British-built twin to it.

With the city life beginning to boring me, the lead rider assures us that this afternoon's route will take in some of the best roads Los Angeles has to offer. We just have some motorway freeway to dispense with first, which should at least allow me to check out the cruiser credentials of the new bike.

I’ve ridden on the freeway a number of times before and I never fail to feel like they are completely crazy methods of organising a road. Everyone overtakes, left, right and centre and you need your head on a swivel to prevent being splattered by some weed-smoking pick-up truck driver. I do though manage to quell the fear and focus on the bike, and while it’s cruising along nicely, I’m still finding that, at 75-to-80mph, bigger bumps in the concrete road surface are kicking me out of the seat a bit. The pegs aren’t overly vibey, and neither is the seat, although I’m getting enough vibration through the bars that I can already tell I’ll have fizzy fingers by the time we reach lunch.

The odd vibe aside, the engine does cruise along happily, and despite not having a rev counter, my inbuilt tacho (located in my backside) is telling me it’s pulling between 4,500 and 4,750 in top gear at motorway speeds. Not bad, but probably marginally more than the SM 650. Lunch arrives before the twisties and, as expected, I have the tell-tale fizzing in my fingertips which takes about 15 minutes to subside. 

Overall, though, the first test of the bike has been good. In the city and on the freeway, the Shotgun performs well enough that you probably wouldn’t have a problem commuting on one - through summer at least. The engine is punchy enough down low when riding in town, and you aren’t thraiping its nuts off on the motorway. The brakes are good at both ends, which is surprising when you consider the weight and minimal number of pistons you’re relying on, and the riding position (on smooth roads at least) is just on the right side of being engaging and not overly stretched when reaching for the bars. 

The next part of the launch ride is what I’m waiting for, though. I’ve already seen some teaser photos from this part of the event and the roads look mega. I’ve been promised perfect asphalt, sweeping bends and stunning views. Let's see if this Shotgun can become a Swiss Army Knife, and be as good here as it has been everywhere else.

Rested and refreshed after lunch, we head off along Big Tujunga Canyon, and make our way towards the Angeles Crest Highway. The first thing I’m noticing is that ground clearance is an issue - you don’t have to provoke the Shotgun much to have it grinding away its pegs! Push a little further and you’ll hear a slightly different grinding noise as the exhaust kisses the road. Sparky pegs aside, I’m not finding many major flaws with the bike, and as the pace rises there’s little I can do to change my mind. It’s a bike that moves really nicely from one turn to the next, and that’s not something I can say about all cruisers. Riding a bike of this style can be a bit point and squirt, but with 46 bhp on tap you have to be more flowing on the Shotgun, and when you are it’s a rewarding thing to ride. 

I do have to add that the roads we’re on are perfect, and not the kind you’ll often encounter in the UK - billiard smooth, with a nice grippy surface, and every corner seems to have a delicious amount of camber applied to it. Up here though in the Californian hills, it’s allowing me to wallop through sweepers at a surprising rate of knots. For a bike with such cruiser-esque styling, it’s great at chasing apexes on, and while I am now living in the upper end of the rev range, which means dancing about on the gear lever quite a bit, it’s just making the whole experience feel that bit more involving and exciting.

The real party piece of the Shotgun, though, is how you can get the back end slithering about on the way into a corner. Trail the rear brake, which is very powerful, and even with the ABS kicking in you’ll have the rear stepping out a little as the bike scrambles in the direction you point the bars. It’s hilarious! I’ve only ever done this kind of thing in the wet on other cruisers and it’s turning this afternoon’s ride into an absolute giggle fest!

The same fun can't quite be had on the way out of a turn, though, and I’m having to nail my gear selection for the corner to make the best progress. Luckily, the slip assist-equipped gearbox is a peach, and I can clutchless shift my way up the gearbox helping to make the most of those 46.7 ponies.

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 Verdict

I called this bike Royal Enfield’s ‘accidental performance cruiser’ at the top of the page, and while that’s not strictly true (the teams in the UK and Chennai are all smart cookies and know how to build a bike), I do stand by it. There isn’t really another A2-ready cruiser on the market that rides as nicely as the Shotgun 650, especially not at this price point. To find anything else that can raise a grin quite like this will mean looking much further up the charts at bikes from either Triumph or Harley-Davidson. But then you’ll be paying more to buy it and to insure it.

There’s another bonus with the Shotgun though, and it comes down to being able to ride the thing to within an inch of its life, but never getting near those licence-losing speeds. I remember slithering my way into a downhill left-handed hairpin on the way to the final photo stop of the day. The bars were crossed up, and I could hear the rear tyre chirping away beneath me - I was pissing myself laughing into my helmet, but not doing more than 55 or 60 mph. It’s those kinds of rides when you can drag almost all of the performance potential out of a bike that are the most memorable. Not those when you are tip-toeing your way around electronic intervention and the threat of being sent to the moon from a bhp-induced highside.

A big thanks to Royal Enfield for having us along on the launch, more information can be found on the official website.


Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 specs




Engine layout

Parallel-twin 270-degree crank

Engine details

4 Stroke, Air-Oil Cooled, SOHC Engine


47 bhp @ 7,250 rpm


38 lb-ft @ 5,250rpm


6 speed


Wet - multi-plate with slip/assist

Tank size

13.8 litres

Max range to empty


Rider aids

2-channel ABS


Steel, twin-spar tubular frame

Front suspension

43mm Showa USD no adjustability - 120 mm travel

Rear suspension

Twin-shock - 90 mm travel

Front brake

Single 320 mm disc, two-piston caliper

Rear brake

Single 300 mm disc, one piston caliper

Front wheel/tyre

100/90-18 (Tubeless)

Rear wheel/tyre

150/70-17 (Tubeless)


1465 mm




101.4 mm

Seat height

795 mm

Ground clearance 

140 mm


240kg (ready to ride)

Royal Enfield Shotgun 650 video review