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Buy used - whatever you get, there's a good chance you'll drop it in some clumsy manuever at low speed and pick up a few scratches and dents. After a year of regular riding, then consider a new bike if you really want one.

You want something that's not gonna challenge you with extremes, whether that's riding position, power, or handling responsiveness.

Unlike a lot of the other posters, I don't recommend the SV650 as a first bike. A well tuned one will pull your arms out at low RPMs - mine pulled just as hard at low speeds as my V65 Sabre (1100cc 100RWHP V4 which was known in it's day for making power all over the RPM range) which is anything but a beginner's bike.

I would go with a used EX500 (Ninja 500) or a 250 even (remember it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow). Put in perspective, the 250 is about as fast as a Porsche Boxster in 0-60 and the 500 is quicker than a Vette through the quarter mile. They're slow by bike standards but not slow to someone new to motorcycling.

The YZF600R is a great all around bike but still too fast and serious for a newbie.

Other good choices are Nighthawks and Suzuki GS's... but I think both are less sporty and more old-tech than the little Ninjas.

Since the 600RR will challenge you with every extreme possible (power, position, etc), while the Duck has a pretty average riding position, softer power delivery than the SV650, slower handling than a diehard sportbike, the Duck would be the better choice if you -MUST- have a new bike... but I would get a used Ninja 500 and ride the wheels off of it for a year first.
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