Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hey Chaos... welcome to the club! I think the 500 is a great bike to start on. I was actually looking for one last year when I got back into riding but settled on a Yamaha 250. Within 6 weeks I was shopping for a bigger bike. I actually rode a 500 then and liked it but the price was too high. I later found a 900 classic which I'm really happy with now.
Regarding practice, I'd recommend first spending time in an empty parking lot just getting use to using the friction zone on the clutch, proper braking, some quick stops, etc. Get comfortable so you don't have to think about how to use the controls and can focus more on traffic, etc, when you get on the road. Also, probably the most important thing I learned early on was to keep my head up and always look where you want to go, not down at the ground, and not at something you are trying not to hit, like a curb. The bike will go where you are looking so get use to swinging your head around and look ahead to where you want to be. Also, take it slow. Learn how the bike handles, etc, before pushing it. Don't want your first season to be a short one! Lot's of good videos and advice on all this online. Enjoy!