- Proceed FST Light
- £1,149 (frame only)
- 0131 445 2600
- 150 or 177mm of travel
- Adjustable geometry
Formed in 2002, Bavarian company Proceed is a relatively young manufacturer. It describes itself as “an exclusive manufacturer of high end, fully adjustable and low maintenance mountain bike frames,” and promises “a unique technical look and outstanding workmanship.”
The FST Light is designed as a lightweight long-travel trail frame. It’s essentially the same design as Proceed’s FST, but lighter tubing and an air shock brings the weight down to just under 8lb (for a small frame) – not too shabby for a frame with up to 177mm of travel.
All dimensions based on Large frame
- Effective top tube length (TT) 23.75in
- Seat tube, centre to top (ST) 19in
- Chainstay (CS) 16.75in
- Head angle 67-71°
- Seat angle 68-72°
- Weight as tested 14.6kg (31.1lb)
First impressions of the Proceed put us very much in mind of fellow German brand Nicolai’s industrial look – big tubes, square-section bits, lots of tidy welds, big gussets and the odd swoopy bit thrown in just to break up all the straight lines. It’s not a universally-popular look, but ride something that’s universally popular and you tend to find the rest of the universe riding it too…
The two frame features that first catch the eye are the huge vertically-ovalised downtube and the funky machined, curved uprights at the front of the swingarm. These swoop down from the top of the seatstays, via a pair of shock mounting holes (for long or longer travel), down to the beefy pivot bearings (tucked away behind the middle chainring) and then throwing in a cheeky opposite curve to navigate around the back of the BB shell to meet the chainstays.
At the aft end, the dropouts are machined from substantial alu plate but with lots of material taken out to save some weight. We didn’t notice the unique feature of the dropouts until we tried to take the rear wheel out – they’re designed for an oversized 12mm rear axle, so to fit a regular 10mm QR axle the frame is equipped with a pair of “top hat” spacers. This works fine, except that on the test bike removing the wheel involved removing the skewer completely, popping the spacers out (and trying not to lose them) before finally dropping the wheel. Something of a faff, but easily avoided by running a big axle at the back.
Another notable feature is the substantial number of bolts on the frame. The front shock mount is bolted to the downtube (with the shock held on by a third bolt). The whole mount is flippable – it’s got a short end and a long end, and one of the mounting holes on the downtube is slotted. This allows you to move the front end of the shock forward or aft by a few mm, which drops or raises the BB height. Whatever you do, though, this is a pretty tall bike. In the long-travel/low setting the bottom bracket is just over 15in off the deck.
All of this makes the geometry a bit of a movable feast, with head and seat angles varying over a range of about two degrees. Add in the effects of fork length and you wonder what happened to the simplicity of single-pivot designs…
An interesting attribute of the FST Light is the way that the sizing works. As well as the common Small/Medium/Large sizes, there’s also a “Medium Long” which has the same seat tube length as the Medium but with the top tube of the Large, which is a potentially useful extra option.
The standard rear shock is a Manitou Swinger Air 3-Way. Setup is considerably more straightforward than on the original incarnations of this shock thanks to the SPV adjustment now being a lever rather than a second air valve. That also makes it adjustable on the fly, which is potentially useful.
The test frame came in a black anodised finish – there’s also a shiny ball-burnished option.
The FST Light is available as a frame only. MTB Distribution put this one together for us with their choice of bits – we’re just telling you what they are because someone’s bound to ask.
Starting at the front, we find a RockShox Pike 454 with U-Turn. The Pike’s getting on a bit now, but it’s to the fork’s credit that it didn’t seem too bothered by having to lead the way for a rear wheel packing an extra inch of travel. A lot of the other bits are from the SRAM empire too – Truvativ Stylo cranks, Avid Juicy Seven brakes (a bigger rotor on the front would have been nice, but you’ll be choosing your own anyway) and X-9 trigger shifters and mechs.
Wheels comprised Hope hubs, Sun Singletrack rims and Maxxis High Roller 2.35in tyres. Thomson seatpost and stem held an SDG saddle and Easton carbon bars respectively. The whole thing came in at a not-unreasonable 14.6kg (31.1lb).
After a bit of chopping and changing we decided that we preferred the Proceed in the shorter-travel setting. It sits a little lower, it felt better balanced with the fork on the test bike and the shock felt better able to cope with an inch less travel. It’s not that it was particularly disagreeable in the long-travel mode, but there’s a detectable falling rate in the overall system that, while yielding decent pedalling performance, seemed a little over-eager to explore the further reaches of the travel. In 150mm mode it felt a little more progressive and controlled.
On paper parking your single pivot right down near the chainrings is something of a compromise. You get low pedal feedback and a fluid action, but the pivot bearings have to be quite close together to fit in there, reducing stiffness. This isn’t something that seems to bother the FST Light, though. The stout construction and well-braced swingarm keep everything on the straight and level.
We wouldn’t go so far as to say that the FST was a “good” climber, but it’s certainly an entirely acceptable one if you take its overall weight and travel into account. Flicking the shock’s SPV lever round a notch or two certainly helps, but the long top tube means that there’s scope to run the seat quite well forward to get some more weight over the front to encourage the bike to hold a line.
You’re not going to go climbing on this bike for the sake of a climb, though. Riding it up a hill is all about getting to the top of a descent, and that’s where the FST feels most at home. You might as well take advantage of the high BB and keep pedalling, as the stout chassis is unlikely to be knocked off line – it’s not going to head off in any directions that you don’t aim it at.
Ups and downs
Positives: Light for what it is, sturdy feel inspires confidence, something a bit different
Negatives: Feels better with less travel, tall BB not to all tastes, rear dropouts a nuisance with regular axles
We rather like this. It’s got the shape, travel and general feel of a heavy-duty, long-travel bike but the frame’s actually pretty light, relatively speaking. Combined with well-behaved suspension, it’s a lot less of a chore to climb on than you might expect, even in the 170mm mode. And coming back down again you can’t help but brim with confidence thanks to the stout feel. The rear dropout inserts are a little annoying, the high BB won’t be to all tastes and the shock feels happier delivering 150mm of travel than 170, but the FST Light is worthy of serious consideration.