I just noticed that there are ads on top for motorcycles in this thread
I would say that $1,000.00 for gear is leaving parts of the body unprotected. But I am an old fart who has been down twice on the street and countless times on a dirtbike. The being down twice on pavement was a dual-sport, XL600, mixed with mass amounts of alcohol and the one and only time I ever did that. There is absolutely no room in riding and mixing of alcohol, equilibrium is just too damned important and riding requires a high level to be safe. Even when I am out farting around I wear my gear and the only time I have been seriously injured was out at Clear Creek, had a head on with some asshole racing on the main road. That was one very expensive outing as I did not carry any insurance on my dirt bikes at the time and the asshole fled the scene with me unconscious on the side of the trail. If I ever found out who was responsible I would probably the shoot the fucker. It was a hot day and I chose to wear my lighter open face helmet, no flak hacket and some lighter pants with no guards, it was messy and expensive lesson. Prior to that I have had get-offs at 50+ MPH with just slight bruising, good gear does make a difference.
I would agree 100% with what Mack suggested, get a decent sporty bike and put 10K miles on it to get comfortable with riding on the street. Once you are comfortable with the current bike look for a bike that meets your needs. There is a huge difference in a bike with 100HP and one with 150+HP, the 100HP bike is fun, sporty and you would have to work at it to get in trouble. The 150+HP bike will get you into trouble so quickly it is truly scary and having a tank-slapper at 70 is no fun, even if you are not run over by following traffic.
Mack, on the bike I am looking to get it has to be a good tourer, good half-assed sport bike, good dual-sport and manage decently with crosswinds. The KTM was probably in the front running but a couple things turned me off. Numerous folks have had trouble with the 990 series due to shitty fueling maps and surging (this would drive me fucking bonkers!!). The 990 from what I have heard is pretty piss-poor in cross-winds or any high wind situation. The soft bags are preffered for me anyway as I hate hard luggage, so Wolfman or Giant Loop would be in order. A couple of the bikes I am seriously considering are the Triumph 800XC, the BMW F800GS, the Super Tenere from Yamaha and yes the Ducati MTS1200 is still in the running though it might be a tad too street oriented for me. Husky and Honda both are releasing an adventure style bike this week at EICMA so we will see what their offerings are.