You said: I don’t know what I like a motorcycle to feel like so I don’t particularly want to start out spending $5000+ for the SV
I say, spending ~4K for a new 08 Ninja 250 without knowing what you want your bike to feel like is still throwing away buku money. You should go and sit on a variety of bikes and make sure that #1 your comfortable sitting on them. Also, you didn’t specify if you’re only looking for new or if going used will be acceptable as you can find sv650’s used as low as $3500 USD (takes hunting though).
As far as my limited knowledge of riding goes, I’ve ridden a buddy’s 06 ninja and a buddy’s 08 ninja, parking lot only though for the 08 ninja, and I can say if your object is for everyday commuting including freeway, the ninja’s perfectly good.
As for a new rider, I can’t say what’s a better starting bike. The logic’s there that a ninja 250 will better for learning on for your first bike, but that’s not to say that you can’t learn with an sv650 as your first bike. Lots of people have. I’m a new rider and my first bike is an sv650. Lurking on this site for a while, it’s safe to say that as far as first bikes go, 250s are more recommended. I can say for me, I had an easier time recovering from noob mistakes on my buddy’s ninja 250 than with my sv650, probably due to the sv650 being a heavier bike.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…