This article is from the Beginner Motorcycle Info FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Ravi Narayan) with numerous contributions by others.
The first thing you will want to do before buying a bike is to take
the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. The course is multi-session (over 1-4
days) and involves both classroom and riding. Even if you have ridden
before or have already started riding now you should take the basic class.
Experienced professionals teach you how to ride, turn, break, accident
avoidance, etc. ie.generally how not to get crunched. You DON'T need a dmv
permit/license to take the class, and motorcycles and helmets will
be provided. Call 1-800-447-4700 (national) or 1-800-cc-rider (CA)
to find out where to take it. Cost is $50-150 depending on age and
location, whatever the price, it is well worth it. If you ignore
all the advice here, don't ignore this one, your health insurance
company may later thank you! Next year you can take the advanced class.