Wow Matt, great post. Especially interesting as that BMW F650GS is firmly in my sights as my next bike. Looks like I will have to take it nice and easy if (when!) I get one.
Elias, sorry I misinterpreted your intent. Oh so easy to do on forums like this (at least for me). I know you are trying to understand what makes a good beginner bike but you could just take the easy way out like me. Buy a scooter and no matter the size, you won’t need to worry about too much power!