Hey David, I took lessons before riding. I paid 350 dollars for three months at a place called Coopers Cycle Ranch (as many times as I wanted to go) during the week after work). I was one of those guys who was there in the rain with a slicker on. I bought my VN750 without having a licence or any experience at all riding. In addition, each Sunday for three months there was a class where they talked about and demonstrated safety, equipment, and etc. When you were done all of your classes on the schools paved course they gave you a bike to take the test. Once you passed the test you had to complete the road portion of the training.
David, I cannot stress enough the importance of taking lessons. I would love to go back and get a refresher. There's so many things they tell you you'll never forget. There was a guy in one of my classes who stated he wanted to take lessons to get a refresher. Shortly after we were on the course and he was dragging his feet on the ground after the instructor told us to keep our feet up as long as possible. He said that's the way he does it...So, he didn't change. He had plenty of bad habits.
A buddy of mine took his test last year, never practiced but passed the test. He bought a bike and has been going to a parking lot to practice. I asked him what he was practicing and he said driving around. Yikes!
I remember during lessons they made you drive a motorcycle at an ungodly slow speed. Turning properly at slow speeds was also very hard. Picture those cops on their big bikes making crazy tight turns on a very small course while riding their cruisers. There's a technique for this and it may get you out of a very tuf situation if your about to be rear ended or need to get out of the way under control. Sorry, I believe you really need to be that good. I'm not, that's why I need to get more of those lessons.
Brother, good luck with your new bike. It's an amazing high while your senses are being bombarded as you ride. I'm happiest when I'm on my bike.