Being new to this forum, I hope I'm not repeating any information here. I just wanted to save any other new(er) riders some of the frustrations I encountered in my early days of motorcycling. It would have been nice if I knew then what I know now, but in all my internet research, I never came across any info specific to my locale. I've read some wonderful ride reports about cross country travel on older and smaller displacement motorcycles without windshields and/or fairings and the light bulb just recently went on that I find myself in a somewhat unique situation, geographically. I live in the desert Southwest and am here to let new riders know that most of the motorcycles that are recommended for a newbie will not cut it out here if you intend to get on the highway, let alone the intersate. I wanted a motorcycle to commute to work on and with posted speed limits of 65mph around town and a cautious estimate of traffic speed of around 80mph, I shudder to think of a 250cc trying to haul me safely in the flow of traffic. Of course, my svelte 6 foot 240 pound frame may be a factor, but it still brings to light something I couldn't find posted anywhere else. While those starter bike may be able to attain those speeds and maybe even sustain them, I don't think they have much left over for anything else. To be fair, I have only ridden the MSF 250s, but my own experiences with a 500cc twin and a 650cc single lead me to believe anything less (smaller) would be foolhardy at best. I used to wonder why I only saw gigantic tourers, Harleys, and sport bikes on the freeways. Where were the dual-sports, the vintage standards, or anything with "character?" Now I know those bikes are not suited to maintain the speeds of our southwest highways. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to impugn those bikes here, I'm just trying to let others learn from my mistakes. If someone had flat out told me that a big thumper can keep up with traffic, but it'll buzz your fillings out, burn some oil, and get gas mileage a little worse than a Hyundai, I probably wouldn't have bought it. I guess the moral to the story is buy a motorcycle based on how and WHERE you will use it.