As a long-time biker (read: all my life), we’re gonna need some more info, Wes. Does he have any experience? Has he taken, or does he plan to take, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course? If not, he needs to.
Definitely. I can’t stress this enough. Take the course.
A wealth of possibilities exist for the newbie rider, but it’s far too easy to get seduced into something that’s over a new rider’s head. Newbie? Smaller and used is the way to go. He can always trade up later. Small-displacement, used starter bikes are fairly easy to come by, but I’ll make a couple of suggestions that should be in his price range…all used…
Cruiser-style? Suzuki Savage 650; Honda Nighthawk 250, 450 (more of a standard, really, and a fine choice); Yamaha Virago 500
Naked-bike look? Suzuki GS500
Total boy-racer look with potential for growth? Kawasaki Ninja 500
DEFINITELY AVOID THE TEMPTATION to buy one of the recent (read: last 4 years) iterations of 600cc sportbikes. They’re violent little guys that will get him road-rashed in a big hurry.
1986 Yamaha FJ1200
2003 Suzuki Volusia
…and lot of other bikes before that…