There's been some bike talk around so I thought I'd throw out some thoughts on the subject. There's a lot to consider.
The age old debate of cruiser vs. sportbike is not going to be solved today. However, as a guy who used to mock crotchrockets mercilessly, and now rides one, I can tell you what I know. What I know is, most people who make fun of crotchrockets have never ridden one. They think they look funny, or the seating position looks uncomfortable, and that's that. Well... I've ridden both. This is what I can tell ya:
1) Under 40 miles per hour, cruisers are more comfortable.
2) Over 40 miles per hour, crotch-rockets are WAY more comfortable.
3) Cruisers are not nearly as fun to ride. They are weak, heavy, and are a bitch to turn.
4) Crotchrockets are light, insanely powerful, and turn on a dime.
It's pretty simple really. If you are leaned back, or sitting straight up, you are fighting the wind. If you are leaned forward, the wind actually supports your weight. It feels like you're laying down.
Cruisers look cool. No doubt about it. So if you want to wallow around town at 20 mph, then by all means, by one. IF however, you have even the slightest notion of taking the bike on a long road trip, buy something else. By something like what me or JACIII have.
Besides... it's so much fun to laugh at the harley boys when you find them on the interstate. They will ring their backs out trying to stay ahead of you... and you don't even have yours in 4th gear yet... You just ride up beside them... laugh... coast back until they are about 50 yards ahead of you... then you crack the throttle wide open... their "loud pipes" suddenly are drowned out by the roar of demons decending on the earth, and you blow by them so fast they actually make a "thump" sound in your helmet. hehehe..
Anyway... Here's a great list for first bikes:
Kawasaki Ninja 500
Kawasaki Ninja 250
Suzuki Katana 600
Suzuki Katana 750