Post Master General
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Bowling Green, VA
I Ride: '09 ZX6R
The right answer, IMHO, is to buy your safety gear before you buy the bike. Invest in keeping your skin intact. It's a lot less of an adventure to replace a bike or swap out broken parts on it, rather than you.
In the same line of thought...... go through as much formal training as you can get your hands on. Learn the right things to do before you have to unlearn the less efficient and potentially (more) dangerous techniques you will develop in the vacuum.
Spend $1.5-2K on the gear. Jacket, helmet, pants, gloves, boots. You can get a little cheaper, and you can certainly spend a lot more. Make sure your gear isn't color coded to your dream bike -- the gear is likely to out last whatever bike you get. It only goes south if you crash in it in a serious way. I have textile jackets that I have been using since 2001. Very. Rugged. Construction. Has to be, to help you survive a crash...... if you don't crash, it won't wear out. (for this reason, used gear is a good way to save cash.) Specialized gear is orders of magnitude better than what you can bodge together yourself.
Training is an education, only it's almost always a lot more 'hands on' than a class at college. Some states, it's free. Some educational bodies offer it at a discount. Whatever you have to pay, it's going to be money well spent. Having a impartial observer, who is trained specifically on how to coach the learning process for what is involved in riding is something that a price cannot be put on. Checking your ego at the door, and really working to learn what is being communicated will benefit you the rest of your life. A lot of the techniques demonstrated and explained are counter intuitive. Best to learn the right way first.
You may notice that I haven't said what you should pay for a bike, or what kind of bike. That's such an open ended question that it is very difficult to give you an answer that is 'one size fits all'.
I learned to ride on mini bikes, then moderately powered dual sport bikes, then got to ride a few motocross bikes before I ever bought my own. This is not as common as it once was..... considering I learned to ride in the the mid 1970's, a lot has changed.
"Basic stuff fellas. Use your head for something other than to break your next fall." Words to live by