Pros: Low cost, low maintenance & looks good
Cons: Clutch friction zone too short for beginners
I bought a new 2003 Blast in June 2004 as my beginner bike. After doing a lot of research the Blast seemed to be a best buy. You can still buy 2002 and 2003 left overs at a steep discount from the 2004 models. Mine cost around $4000 out the door, which included tax, tags, etc.
I wasn't sure if I wanted a cruiser or a sport bike and the blast was somewhere in between. It's considered a standard. I find it very comfortable for my 5'-7", 160lb frame. The bike has plenty of power and handles well.
The only drawback I've found is that the clutch has a very short friction zone which makes it difficult to get the bike going. I've already dropped it once at an intersection due to this problem. Other than that I think it's a great first bike. I've only been riding for a few weeks and am getting more comfortable with the clutch every day I ride it. I recommend lots of practice in a parking lot or other controlled environment before venturing out into traffic.