The trick with the Dahon Hammerhead is to metaphorically close your eyes just before mounting it. This is because the thing looks pretty weird but rides brilliantly.
Dahon claim this is a whole new category of bike, the 'Mini-bike' category. Of course, Dr Alex Moulton was making 'mini bikes' donkeys' years before Dahon came on the scene, but Dahon has muscle and could popularise the idea. Let's face it, they could have made yet another folding bike - it's the world's biggest builder of them - but decided to keep the frame whole, squeezing it down small instead. Maybe they think this is the future?
In use, it works. It's not a compromise, and if you want a folder you'll buy a folder. The 23lb (10.5kg) alu-framed Hammerhead is not for the suitcase rack of a train, but is a 'proper bike'. A couple of months back the TV news was agog at the 9ft by 9ft cuboid student flats at a German university. The Hammerhead would blend in perfectly. Small, neat, practical.
It's beautifully stashable, and as testament to this, I was recently able to get a Hammerhead and a child's Mtb - both with 20in wheels - in the same rigid road-bike box on a dad-and-his-boy bike tour to Luxembourg.
On the smooth, asphalt bike paths of the compact and bijou Grand Duchy, the compact and bijou Hammerhead accelerated sweetly because of the small wheels but was surefooted too. Once up to speed, it rides like a 700c bike, with road shock softened by a Kinetix Q suspension fork that delivers 35mm of travel. The Shimano 105-equipped Hammerhead 7.0 has TT-style bars. These bullhorns are comfortable, even on all-day rides. Drops would add bulk.
The Hammerhead could be ridden by sixfooters but it's perhaps best seen as a compact performance bike for smaller riders who want a steed that will squeeze easily into tight spaces - car boots for example, under beds perhaps - but don't want the ride and weight compromises that come with a folding bike.
The 5.0 version has flat bars, not the TT set-up, and costs £479.99.