My name is Rob and I just got started riding a few weeks ago. Actually, about a month now. In MN I got my permit to ride (restrictions - no freeway, no passengers, no night, and helmet on) and I am loving it. Plan to attend a Basic Rider Course in spring and get my endorsement.
I have a 1998 Vulcan 500. The extensive research I conducted on motorcycles was about two months in the making in order for me to choose the Vulcan 500. Time and time again I kept coming across how the Vulcan 500 is a really good starter bike (for the cruiser class). I was looking up to 750cc for the usual Japanese bike brands, but was liking the Vulcan engine (based off of Ninja engine). Couldn't be happier for a starter bike.
I got the bug real bad too. My plan is to learn and become knowledgeable on this "starter" bike and then in two or three seasons trade up to a larger Vulcan (900 Custom or something in the low 1000cc class). Well, that's the plan at least. The more I look at the Kawasaki line the more I like it (and its prices). Truth be told, based on looks alone, I love the Victory brand look. But cha-ching. But I find the bigger Vulcan's are pretty comparable eye candy.
Enough babbling. I look forward to posting questions and concerns and helping out where I can with any experiences I have for others.