The YZZ-600r is a great first bike. Real comfy to ride, plenty of power, very good breaks, and handles like a dream. it is predictable and forgiving. Reasonable price. Looks great in Yamaha factory blue.
250 on the Brutale? I think I have you beat with 150 on the Shovelhead! The only way to beat the Lame Poser moniker is to come out here to Chicago and ride a winter ride with me. No electrics accepted! LOL I'm still jealous you get to ride on great roads all the time.
Thanks to everyone for the help (with the exception of xlr8r and GSXRwolf). By the way, I am aware that they are very different bikes, and I am actually strongly leaning towards the Monster 620, but several friends who ride have been steering me towards the rr since I have a tendency towards fast, high performance things in general and I think it is a great looking bike and they assure me that I could handle it with a good amount of self control. Let's face it, a bike's looks, sound and so on play a role in what we lust for too. However, my instinct was telling me that the rr is too much bike and I am glad that I posted here so that most all of you could confirm what I mostly knew already. I really like the looks and sound of the Ducati Monster 620 and I was not intimidated by it. Also, what is wrong with buying a new bike if you have the money to buy it and repair it if, or probably when, you drop it? Finally, I am going to give the SV650 a second look after eveyone's advice. Does your recommendation apply to the SV650s as well?
Nothing wrong at all in buying a new bike....folks here are just trying to save you some cash....odds are that your bike WILL kiss the pavement.
Any suzuki 650 will be a great bike....I ride a DL650...my decision was obviously not driven by lust.
Take your time in getting to fast, high performance bikes...we'd like you to be here a while....while your friends are well-intended, your long-term enjoyment of the sport (and survival) would be better served with a bike more in line with your developing skills....the RR is not that bike.
Sounds like you really like the Duc. Buy it, get some good gear, and have fun. You'll always be able to say that your first bike was a Duc that stirred your soul. How cool is that?
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.
I did not read any of the other posts, sorry if I'm repeating someone else. I would buy a used bike and wait for the first Honda 6XX with ABS. I think the 6XX Hondas will have ABS for 06. Look at the UK Honda web site. All Hondas will have ABS by 2010 even the smallest ones. Where Honda leads others will quickly follow. Unless for some reason you want to race. No body can stop as good as ABS. Heh they may even throw in traction control. Safety first ya know.