This is a practical and stylish folding town bike par excellence.
Ride & handling: quick but a touch twitchy
The ride certainly feels fast, no doubt due to the Kevlar-belted Schwalbe Marathon Racer tyres (again unique to Dahon) fitted to quality Kinetix Comp wheels.
The handling was a little more twitchy than expected, probably due to some rather upright geometry at the front end of the bike.
Bigger riders might hate it as the seatpost to bar reach is relatively short - as usual with Dahons though, there's plenty of seatpost adjustment for the leggy!
Five Sturmey-Archer hub gears (XRF5) felt reasonably smooth and give a 225 per cent range.
These small niggles wouldn't put me off buying one if I was in the market for a practical town shopper-cum-commuter, though.
The only real competition in this kind of area comes from Brompton, and although they fold better, you'll have to pay substantially more to get one near the same spec as this lovely machine.
Frame: low & lovely
The exceedingly low stepthrough frame is clearly influenced by continental style moped designs (also reflected in the bike's name), making it fine for the long-skirted or those with hip or back problems.
Not that there's a hint of the fogey about it; the 7005 alu frame has a lovely sweep, a great chocolate brown finish, and quality components that complement it beautifully.
Equipment: see the light!
While lighting is usually the accessory mentioned as a final passing comment in bike reviews, the Dahon specific BioLogic Joule 6v/2.4w dynamo catches your eye immediately, with hub dynamos being pretty unusual as standard on bikes nowadays, let alone a folder.
Allied with the very dinky (but dated) halogen Hella Micro FF mounted to the front forks, you get a decent pool of yellowy light - maybe not up to Schmidt/new LED standards, but reliable and practical and great on a bike this price. The rear light is a battery operated Hella, mounted to the handy rear rack.
Other accessories are perfect, from the comfy Biologic saddle to the supportive Biologic grips. Especially thoughtful is the ability to attach a whole range of Klickfix bars and baskets on a special mount on the front of the headset.
Summary: new & useful
While none of the individual components of the Ciao are unique, put them together and chuck in an attractive price tag and this bike does seem like that rare thing in the world of bikes - something genuinely new (useful and attractive to boot).