Choosing the right mountain bike can mean a world of difference when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. Many factors should go into choosing the right model, from your fitness level to how much you are willing to spend. A good bike should meet all basic requirements of a quality product, but it should also fit your lifestyle and preferences as closely as possible.
The first thing you need to consider when you are choosing a bicycle is budget. You could probably get a mass-produced, basic mountain bike for a few hundred US Dollars. If you are looking for a high-end bike for specific roads or tricks, however, you will likely need to spend a great deal more money. If you plan on taking your bike on frequent out-of-town trips, it may be worth it to spend a little more. A cheap one may not be as durable and may lack basics such as a good suspension, which will make its use much more difficult and uncomfortable. A good rule of thumb is to buy the best mountain bike that you can afford.
The next most important consideration is the frame. Most frames are made of either aluminum or steel, with aluminum being the cheapest choice. Traditional diamond frames are best for beginners, but they don't allow for full suspension. Bikes with full rear suspension will have a modified frame, usually missing the vertical tube that comes from under the seat. Rear suspension makes the bicycle more comfortable and prepared for rockier terrain — of course, it also makes the bike more expensive.
Make sure you buy a bike that fits you as well. As a rule, mountain bikes should be smaller than a regular road bike. If you know which size of road bike is good for you, simply choose a model that's 2 inches (about 5 cm) smaller. You should also consider length, and if you want to ride sitting up or as low as possible. Low-handlebars allow for maximum speed, but they can be uncomfortable if you are short or have back problems. If you are not sure what bike is best for you, try a few out. Sit up, stretch your arms, and test how comfortable the seat is. Comparing a few different brands and models will make it easier to choose the one that fits you best.