Thank-you to everyone who has been replying to my thread; much appreciated! I am so glad that I discovered this forum. A great bunch of people and a wealth of knowledge here.
I guess I should have mentioned, that although I have not ridden in a long time, I was in fact an avid (hardcore) rider for many, many years. So I already know that I love riding. And I will also say here that I have never in my life dropped a bike, and doubt that I ever will. I have many friends who have never dropped theirs either. If my daughter was to ever drop her bike, it's simply a matter of getting any damage repaired, and move forward. No need to avoid buying new for fear of damaging it, in my humble opinion. I think that if money is not an issue, a brand-spanking-new bike trumps a used one any day of the week!
I have to agree with osbornk.
I too was what I considered to be a "hard-core" rider 30 years ago. I, and many others have found that you loose a lot of skills over a long absence from riding.
Be careful about getting too confident out there.
That being said, I own both.
A '95 250 Virago (Same as a 250 V-star) and an '03 650 (lowered) Custom. Again, I have to agree with osbornk and disagree with the statement, "...a brand-spanking-new bike trumps a used one any day of the week!" Like osbornk, my '03 came with in excess of $1000 worth of the add-ons that I would have put on myself and would have had to pay for if it had come stock. Plus a never-used $100 pair of riding gloves. It was already lowered front and rear, had a new Jardine exhaust system, was newly jetted, a lot of extra chrome, was in new condition, had 1490 miles on it and I took it home for $3000.
The 250 had 2,869 miles on it, was in new condition except for the original tires, had extra chrome, a windshield, bags, stand-offs and helmets, and I took it home for $1500. So, for less than $800 more than I would have paid for a new 250 V-star (before tax, title and delivery fee), I got two beautiful bikes with extremely low mileage in primo condition.
I ride the 250 75% of the time. Don't even consider riding two-up on it except for a spur-of-the-moment or emergency. The 250 is just a lot more nimble. I can really throw the thing around out there. It's a city, commuter and rural bike. It's a breeze in stop and go, navigating around town, and cruising the country roads. You'll find it'll fatigue you on longer interstate jaunts. It drifts around quite a bit at higher speeds in the crosswinds. It's a lot like work to ride the 250 any distance on the interstate on a windy day.
The 650 is the opposite. It's not as nimble around town but it won't tire you out on extra long cruises and on the interstate. It's got just enough power to feel like it belongs on the interstate, but it's still a joy at lower speeds on the country roads. It's got just enough power that you can feel fairly safe riding two-up. I have to qualify that and say that the new jets and aftermarket exhaust boosted the power a bit.
I rode an '85 Honda 250 Special for the first year that I got back into it.
I bought the 650 and was very happy with it but missed the lighter bike for riding to work and back. So, I bought the 250. I continue to find deals on bling for them and I've never looked back. Since one of them had a lot of the extras already on it, I'll never run out of the money I saved by buying used. The way I've dressed the Virago, some people think it's a Sportster at first glance.
I wouldn't hesitate to take the Virago on a rural group ride, but if I'm doing the 4-lane, the 650's coming out.
I think most here, including myself will recommend the 250 for a new rider for a lot of reasons, most of them obvious. If it were me, it would be the 250 for the daughter for the first full season. The downside of that is that most beginners quickly "outgrow" the 250 and go to something bigger, again for a lot of reasons, and again, most of them obvious. I don't think we're saying, "don't buy new." I think it's that we're saying something more like, "Don't buy new until you know exactly what you're going to want for the long term." Get your feet wet on a couple of great deals on beautiful almost-new bikes first. Get the miles in and then decide if you want to get your entire expenditure back to put down on a brand-new one. The one you know you want from the experience you've had with the used one. Hell, you might just keep the used one(s). Believe me, if they're the right ones, they have a tendency to really grow on you.
'03 650 Custom and '95 Cherry 250 Virago:
Kuryakyn Flame Grips. Chrome Covers.
Bullets w' 6.5W 350LM LED Bulbs.
Relocated Rear Signals.
Padded Sissy Bars and Luggage Racks
Lowered. Jardine Rumblers.
Re-Jetted. Corbin Stinger Seat.
Mustang Tank Strap. Large Inspire Bags.
Yamaha OEM Windshield. Purple LEDs.
Chrome Tank and Fender Trim. Eagle Embossed Fork Bag.
Classic Windshield. Mutazu LN Hard Bags w' Lights.