I’m new to the forum, somewhat new to biking, not new to 200+, and looking to get some advice on purchasing a bike. A little background: I stand at 5’8”, weigh in at 282 lbs. (for now) and have some periodic, but not chronic, back issues that are probably related to my level of fitness. Doctor recently diagnosed me with high blood pressure and put me on meds. He said that at my age, 41, he can most likely take me off of the meds and lower my risk for heart problems and diabetes if I lose weight.
So, I’m looking to get back into it and buy a bike help with the weight loss and overall health and fitness. I used to bike some 15 years ago or so, but haven’t been on one since. The trails I would ride on are mostly established dirt/gravel trails and I’ll do some paved trail riding. Maybe in the future I would like to get off the beaten path and ride on more challenging technical paths, but that would be in the future. I’d like to ask you all for some recommendations on a good bike to get. More importantly, I’m looking for some guidance on what to prioritize in a bike to meet my needs. For example, how important are things like front suspension, saddle suspension, upright riding position, and frame material. My budget is somewhere in the $500 range, a little more is possible, a little less is always nice.
Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance.