I started riding a couple years ago, and my beginner bike was a Kawasaki Vulcan 500. It got plastered in the parking lot, and I found a good deal on my Sportster (04 XL883), so I've been riding that for a year and a half. I do occasionally get the itch for something else and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I end up selling the Sporty for a foreign bike before too long. I love Triumph steez; every time I see a Bonneville or a Street Triple I get the itch.
Yes, Triumphs are gorgeous bikes. But I've always been a bit skittish on anything mechanical made in England (with the exception of Raleigh bicycles, so long as they are full Campy). The Sportster is a fine bike, actually, and you will, eventually, feel the need to go up to 1200 or even beyond, I suspect. I am tempted by the VRod. Best looking bike out there (at least, that my wife would let me ride), I think, and they are widely available for a reasonable price. There was an '03 with brushed aluminum (my favorite finish), less than 8K miles with an asking price of $7,500 or thereabouts on CL recently. I thought long and hard about selling my ST1100 and going for it.