My first bike was a 1982 Honda-Matic 400. It doesn't get any better for taking the road test. High and low gear, no clutch, kind of like cheating really. Bought it at a dealer for $600, ran it for a year, bought a 750, and sold the 400 for $1,100 on eBay.
My wife started riding this year. She picked up a 2011 CBR250R. I've put a few miles on it myself. It is severely underpowered compared to what I'm used to, but it's so light and "flickable" it's actually pretty fun to ride. When she bought it I rode it home (she didn't have her license/insurance yet) and the route home went up and down the three best windy grades we have here! I pointed out the "chicken strips" on the tires before I left and let her know those would be gone by the time we got home.