When shopping for a bike, first take into consideration where you want to ride and what kind of riding you want to do. That will help you narrow down what style of bike you’ll need. For example, do you plan to ride on the road, trails, singletrack, bike paths, etc. If you’re staying on pavement and riding primarily for fitness, a road bike or a fitness hybrid would be great choices. A comfort bike is better for short, casual rides with family. If you want to test your endurance on mixed surfaces, a gravel bike is your best bet. And if your goal is to hit the the rougher, singletrack trails, go with a mountain bike.
Next, consider your goals for riding. Do you want to race competitively on the road or on the trail, keep up with fast group rides, learn technical skills on singletrack, take leisurely rides in the park, or commute to work? Establishing your riding goals will help you determine the quality and specs of the bike you’ll need.