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I think a 250cc cruiser could be fine for a small person who is learning. You can pick one up for a grand or less. They aren't all that suitable for highway travel, but you can cruise backroads for a while learning the basics and probably sell an old cheap bike again for what you paid. My first bike was a 1634cc, but I'm a 6'3" tallboy and only wanted to purchase a bike once, while also having something nice enough to show off while learning, but that road isn't for everyone. About 3 weeks in after never riding a bike prior I was making trips on the highway across town. You'll learn quick.
If you want something a little more but not overly large, just something you won't quickly grow out of, you can find lots of Honda Shadow 600cc-750cc cruisers for sale for 2k or less. For some people that's all they need and they stick with a bike of that size for years.
 
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