Started on an America in 2008 after a 30 year period of little riding. I'm 5' 9" so the America felt about right as a bike to get my skills back up to par on. Practiced a lot in the school parking lot before going to take the skills test at the BMV, and passed it with flying colors. Only had the America for 9 months when the new TBird came out... sat on one at the dealer and that was it, traded and never looked back. I have to say in comparing the two bikes, the Thunderbird is a much better handling bike in the corners, and in the parking lots. Although a heavier bike, the low center of gravity makes a very pleasant bike to handle at low speeds. I have wondered if the TBird were available when I purchased the America, whether I would have gone for the bigger bike to start with? I think for me the America was a good confidence builder, so I agree with others here. Find an inexpensive, used starter bike for a few months and get your confidence and balance back up to par, and you will lose very little when it's time to upgrade to the TBird.