I’ve been riding since the (very) early 70’s. I was 12, and started learning off-road on a Honda 90. After a year or so, I “graduated” all the way up to a Kawasaki 175. Later on, I got a 250 (late 70’s), and then a 500 (early 80’s). I still ride my 500’s, and I’m getting ready to buy a 1200, once some financial things get taken care of. So, I’ve been riding for almost 40 years, and I truly enjoy it.
Learn as you go. Your first bike should be the cheapest thing you can find, that you can also be happy with. Chances are great you’ll wreck it within the first 6 months…most people do…but if you don’t, you’ll be learning on it for a while. Try and keep off the highways for the first couple months, and get a feel for the bike. Once you feel relatively comfortable tossing it around, then hit the highway, and carefully feel your way to 70 or so. Whatever the traffic is doing around you. Don’t be an obstruction, and don’t be a racer. No one respects an idiot on a bike, and they often are the accident victim.
One tip if you DO find yourself in an accident: GET AWAY FROM THE BIKE. You’re cruising around with ~450lbs (or more) of metal that wants to crush, scrape and burn you.
I think everyone’s said it, and I can only echo them…Go through the MSF courses. They’ll teach you basic bike handling, and get you started on the right foot. Then you can take the more advanced courses. I’m getting ready to take yet another one…after riding for 40 years. I’ll be a rider coach and chief instructor soon.
Best of luck and keep the wheels down,