Let's see.... fairly inexpensive and reliable. There are many bikes that fit that description. I assume that you want to buy used first off so have some one that's been around bikes go with ya to look at them. For the record any bike made after let's say 1980 is going to be reliable, that's a proven fact if it's been taken care of and nobody today of the big manufacturers makes anything that's not proven. Bikes like the GS500 Suzuki, Kawasaki Ninja 500 are good for new riders. You can probably even find an older Ninja 600, FZR 600, CRB600 or a GSXR 600 affordable. Don't rule out ones like the naked bikes such as the Yamaha Seca, Bandit 600, or sport tourers like the Katana 600. Like RRSW said take the MSF course.