I know exactly where you're coming from GoTime, I also live in FL and wanted to ride since I was a kid. I took the MSF course when I was 16, and have been riding for the last 3 years since then, with a motorcycle as my only form of transportation. Taking the MSF course is definitely the first thing you want to do. It is administered over a weekend, and after successful completion, you will know the basics of riding. If you complete the MSF, you can take your proof (a MSF card) to your DMV and they will put a Motorcycle Also endoursement on your liscence. As for your other question about insurance, its kind of a touchy subject. Check out this website for more details:
Theoretically, you do not have to have insurance, but I would highly recommend it. It may be more expensive than your car insurance, especially because of your age, but when you go down the first time, you will appreciate it. Trust me, no matter how careful you ride, its a law of nature that you will toss your bike sometime. Luckily for me, of the three times I've been down, all were my fault and did not involve cars or major injury. I've only had to make a claim with my insurance company for one of those accidents (the last one that "totalled" my CBR900rr
), but it payed off in the end.
A 500cc Ninja is a good choice for your first bike. I was actually considering one for mine. Luckily I was able to ride my Dad's 1980 Yamaha XS1100 ("Old Big and Heavy") for a the first six month while I was learning the ins and outs(dumping of your steed) of riding. However, when it came time to get my own bike, I felt that I had to get a real sportbike. My first bike was a 1994 Honda CBR900rr, maybe a little overkill for a beginner, but I was careful and I survived. Now, after my last accident where my bike was written off, I have the best bike on Earth: a Suzuki TL1000R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Make sure you do get safety gear: a good motorcycle jacket (saved my hide three times so far), a DOT/ Snell approved helmet, thick leather gloves, and some sturdy boots. Check out www.motorcyclegearreview.com
for some opinions.
Anyway, check out that page and get back to me if you have any other questions. Later