I would like to preface this with the fact that I am a new rider, and I do realize the great dangers involved in riding, whether it's a Ninja 250R, 650R, 600cc, liter bike, Busa, whatever. I plan on buying a full leather outfit with chest armor, back armor, race boots, race gloves, Shoei helmet, etc... I don't have any racing aspirations at this time, but I have deduced that race gear is safer than road gear. I also question why race crashes would be any less brutal than street crashes, where cagers are lurking everywhere, hence the rationale for race gear. Safety is my first priority.
That all being said, I am very responsible with power. My father willingly lets me drive his Nissan GT-R all of the time, and even allowed me to take a cross-country road trip to college with it. I drive a manual transmission car that I turbocharged myself and added several thousand dollars of aftermarket components to it; it is far faster than a front driver Mazda3 should ever be. And yet, I have never been in any accident of any kind because I respect rather than abuse power. Even driving on the highway with no cops from PA to MO, I never broke 100mph in the GT-R (if you have any idea about that car, you will praise my restraint).
I am close to pulling the trigger on my first bike; I am a 21-year-old male. Like I said, the most important factor is safety, but the second-most important factor to me is style, not speed. I do not plan on breaking into high speed territory until I am extremely comfortable with whatever I get, even if it was a 250R. I recognize that will take months of practice and patience. I plan to take the MSF course, without a doubt.
Back to style; I think the Ninja ZX-6R and Yamaha R6 are the two most beautiful bikes in existence, with their 1000cc and above companions being decidedly less so. I have a high sense of aesthetics, and these bikes speak to me much more than the 650R does, which is what I had initially decided on. Any bike I buy will be USED, as I recognize that I will likely drop it.
The burning question: for an extra grand, I can get a far more beautiful bike. Given my rational views and plan to purchase full gear, am I totally out of my mind to spend a bit more and get the bike I really love to look at? My right hand is still governed by the same brain, and the 650R is still plenty quick. The more aggressive riding position is a plus in my book; I love the sporty look.
Lastly, I take care of my shit. My car is approaching six years old; still looks brand new.
I emphasize that I am responsible and care more about being safe than showing off, BUT I don't see a huge difference in what bike I get as long as I respect the power.
Thanks for your input.