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In addition to my 300, I have a Honda NC700. I would recommend checking it out. They have since up-sized it to a 750, but I'll give some info on the 700 below.
The NC700 was my first bike, and it was certainly more than manageable for a beginner. As far as performance numbers, it's not much more powerful (46hp vs 39hp) but has much more torque, especially at lower revs (61 lbft @ 4750 RPM vs 20 lbft at 10000 RPM). The ergonomics work much better than the "sport" styled bikes for riding distances, and the fuel economy is actually better than the Ninja (3.6 L/100km vs 4.3 L/100km are my measured actuals). Also, since the fuel economy is so good, they locate the tank below the seats and the forward space where the tank "should" be is turned into a 20L storage compartment. It's a bit heavier than most small bikes (just under 500lb) but the low CofG lets it feel/handle like it's lighter than it actually is.
I have taken the NC700 2-up for some weekend trips, including 600km (7hrs riding) days. The bike handled the 2 people (combined weight over 280lb) plus weekend bags well, even up some steep inclines, though downshifts were necessary at times to hold speed on the steeper parts.
The one peculiar thing about the NC700 is the low redline at 6300 RPM or so. If you're used to "normal" bikes, you'll find the rev limiter somewhat often. Not a problem, just something to get used to.
The bike comes in two styles, a "naked" S model (which I have) and the "adventure-styled" X model. You also have your choice of a standard transmission (which I have) or an "automatic" dual clutch transmission.
I've had mine since the model was introduced in 2012 and in 10 years I have not had anything fail on me except needing a new battery about 2 years ago and one leaky fork seal that showed up maybe a year ago (not fixed yet, but I can get a seal kit for $30 or so).

Here's a link to an NC700 Forum if interested: Honda NC700 Forum (nc700-forum.com)
 
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