Figured I'd post up my list of first bike suggestions. C&P from another thread, with a few additions. Note that these are geared towards the sportbike enthusiast. There's a whole slew of standards and semi-cruisers for those who swing that way.
As always, the SV650 (not the S) is just about the best all around newbie/first bike. Its got enough newbie-freindlyness (not the best in that respect, mind you) for most first timers, but has enough in reserve to satisfy pretty much every desire a sportbike rider has. Hell, there are race series devoted SOLELY to the SV.
The ninja EX series (250/500) is a great way to go, although everyone understands they're not going to win any beauty contests. There's PLENTY of ways to beef up these bikes into race machines too, so don't sell them short. Ninja 500s lap all the time at trackdays in the fast group.
If you can find one, a honda VTR250 is another really good first bike.
The Suzuki GS500 is a great alternative, and the new one (the one with fairings) has a lot of GSXR inspired visual cues, which is good for those who want that modern sportbike look. (Note that fairings do increase insurance…)
The Ducati monster 600/620 is a decent first bike and, of course, has that "Ducati" thing going on, if that's your bag.
The Honda Hawk 650 is another good machine, with a single sided swingarm to boot. Wanna stand out? Get one of these.
The newer four cylinder naked bikes (599, FZ6, etc.) are a still a bit aggressive all around for a newbie (and a bit on the expensive side), but if it comes down to one of these or a race rep, I say get one of these.
The VFR 400 has the single sidsed swingarm, an engine tone that will turn heads of Harley guys, let alone sportbike guys, AND it has gobs of resale value, not that you'd ever sell it. Wanna REALLY stand out? Get one of THESE.
The FZR 400 is another cult race bike, so its got plenty of potential, while still being relatively tame in stock form.
Following the 400 theme, the bandit 400 is a very cool option.
And older ninja 600E, while being a bit on the porky side, is still on the fringes of fitting the bill.
Something like a CBR F2 is even better than a current race-rep, although IMHO you'd pay more for one than its worth.
There's also the katana lineup...full fairings, but easy on the geometry.
Bandit 600. Been around since dirt, and its just about as reliable.
Late Edition Edit: The new Ninja 650R. Love/hate looks, modern technology, plenty of long-term capability.
Modified by bxr140 at 11:25 AM 6-8-2006