I started riding almost exactly 1 year ago. My bikes and drop history:
First bike: Suzuki GS500. In the beginning I had wanted to beat the statistics, promised myself that I’d be careful and would never drop the bike, but that was not reality for a brand new rider. Dropped it 3 different times at walking speed (didn’t know what I was doing for the condition), followed by a 40 mph lowside (preventable, I rode over my head). Replaced the handlebar and fixed the gauges, still rides great. I’m 6′ even, and this bike is “comfortably small.”
Second bike: Yamaha YZF600R. Never dropped yet. Much harder to ride and balance at low speed. About 1.5-2″ taller than the GS500, so more roomy.
Third bike: Suzuki SV650N. Never dropped yet. Much more torquey than the GS, probably get me in more trouble as a first bike. About 1.5″ taller than the GS500, so more roomy.
My point is the first bike will get dropped; that’s a part of learning. Still own all 3 bikes above. Want to get an R6 real bad, just because…
I’ve never ridden a dual sport, but kind of want to get one and have been looking. My thinking is, if you ride in the inner city with stop-and-go traffic, and don’t expect to go over much 50 mph much of the time, then a smaller dual sport (let’s say 400cc or below) would be totally in it elements. But if you need to ride the freeway, I’d want a bigger dual sport, like a DR650, which is the one I’m hoping to get. DRZ400sm is very cool looking, but its less than ideal freeway cruising capability is what’s been holding me back from getting one.