I got all my gear at the Good Time Centre. They have the most accessories and clothing in the area. I don’t know about any of the shops outside of the ottawa area though.
For the Gearing Up course (equivilant to the MSF, and actually, what the MSF is based on – bet you never knew the MSF started in Ottawa, Canada, in the 50s!) I rode a 150cc Honda Titan (imported from Brazil specifically for the course). It has a very neutral sitting position, and lets you transition to any other style very easily. They also used (but are fazing out) Blasts and Super Sherpas. There was only one Rebel there, and it was the instructor’s bike.
Given the choice between a 2003 and a 2006, I’d go for which ever has the least klicks and looks to be in the best condition. If the 2003 is roughly $3000, it is only going to really depreciate another $500 in its life – which is good when you resell it. Where the 06 has that much more money to be “lost”. But I’ll happily pay $1000 more for a bike in good nick, that is going to be trouble free for years.
Insurance in Ontario for NEW riders who a) take the course, and b) are over 25 – has to be Rider’s Plus.
They will not insure supersports, or bikes older than 25 years, or anyone under 25. However, if you meet those criteria, then they charge based solely on the cc of the bike. A 250cc bike costs $720 liability if you’ve taken rider’s training. Which was $100 less than the best kingsway would give me. Once I have a few years of riding under my belt, I’ll look into other providers, but for a n00b, they are the cheapest I’ve been able to find.
As for where I learnt about the differences between the ZZR250 and the Ninja 250, http://faq.ninja250.org is a really great site. They deal mostly with the us spec Ninja, but discuss the ZZR every now and then. They have an article specifically talking about the differences between the ZZR and in the Old Ninja – But the author is comparing *his* ninja (which has had several upgrades) to the ZZR. Basically, we get all the upgrades he paid for, as stock.