I've got to say it's quite refreshing to see a post from someone who doesn't want to start out on a full blown sportbike! The 250 Ninja, IMHO, is almost a perfect starter bike; good handling, decent power, and outstanding fuel economy (insurance is cheap too). If you have to have new, go in armed with the knowledge of MSRP and make the dealer an offer where he doesn't lose money and you don't get screwed. If the guy won't come off of the high horse, find another dealer. I agree with the post above regarding his service department. Talk to other riders in the area and see if they've had bad experiences with them. I really think your best bet will be to go used. Last year, I purchased two of these bikes for $3200 in San Antonio, TX, from a private owner. A 2000 model with just over 2,000 miles and a 2002 with 63 miles on the odometer. The '02 had a rusty tank because they let it sit for four years with no fuel in it. I had to replace it with a used tank from Ebay. It also had a bad wobble caused by a front tire that separated from sitting for four years with no air in it. After all was said and done, I estimate I spent around $3,600 for two excellent little bikes that I have a blast riding. You've just got to look carefully and be patient; the deals are out there.