Thanks for all the response. But gezz, some of you guys feel pretty strong about this topic, but hey, that's why I asked the questions here.
Considering how easily someone could get hurt, safety is definitely my biggest concern. I have no intention of getting a fully faired 600c supersports bike nor going to track or any other racing events. Don't plan on being a squid either, and that's why I have gotten all the necessary gears (helmet, gloves, fully armored jacket, lower body armor) to protect myself. So you guys can cut me some slack on that
Being a squid is just idiotic...
MSF courses does not at all prepare you to ride in a busy street or highway. But neither do I am plan on doing that until I have few thousands miles of experience. All I want is ride in the back roads between WI and IL, where the highest speed I can go is 40-50mph, and enjoy the sense of forced meditation that motorcycling gives.
I have looked at used 250, 500, and 650 on craiglist, but it is quite difficult getting a clean one during the riding season. Most of them have been dropped or abused in some way or form. Thus is the reason why I am leaning toward buying a more expensive bike, where it has been properly treated and ridden by someone who knew what they are doing. A new Yamaha FZ6 or the Kawasaki Ninja 650 are excellent beginner bike from all the research that I have done, but at more than $7K OTD, I think I might be better off getting a used BMW, especially since the beamer has ABS. The brakes on my car have probably saved me from a crash half a dozen times, so I will take a motorcycle with good brakes over anything.
Sorry for the thread jack btw. Do enjoy pictures of all the awesome bikes that you guys posted.