KC, My wife is 5'4" and she has a Honda Shadow. Sort of a small Harly looking bike. She has it rigged up like a little cruiser. Windsheld, leather bags, etc.
She wears leathers, chaps, pants, jacket, vest (with "Lady Rider" and rose on the back) and a helmet.
Suggestion, take riding lessons! Most places have schools, they are not all that expensive, and you will learn a lot. I've been riding sence 1962, and I have taken the course a couple of times, (mostly to bolster up a friend) but you know what? I learn something EVERY new time. The only time I have ever had a problem on a bike is when I was showing off.
Things to look for: Make sure that you can sit comfortably and have both feet on ground. Feet flat is best. One toe dosn't do it, suppose you have to stop on the side of a hill? Then what? (thud)
Consider crash bars on the front. If you do fall over, they will protect your legs. They also make it eiser to pick the bike back up.
Oh, you might lookd for a motorcyle club in your area. Check out the AMA, American Motorcycle Assoicion. They have 'road' clubs, where they all get together and go on camp outs and go to rallys, lots of fun.
There are three main clubs baised on the brand of motorcycle. BMW Owners of America, Goldwingers (something like that, for Goldwings, the big Honday road bike.) and HOGs for Harley.
If you can handle it, you can find a very nice used Goldwing for under $4000, sometimes under $2500. These are very comfortable mounts.
Oh yes, classes of bikes. roughly this is Fadacs classes.
Cruisers, sort of an "outlaw" look, some chopper styling.
Road Bikes, The big ones, Harly, Goldwing, etc. My K75 sort of fits here. I have a faring, saddle bags, and top box.
Dirt bikes; I'm lumping all the high fender knobby tire bikes here. (Not fair, but this is MY list. )
Crotch Rockets: Race looking, you lay forward, short handlebars, lots of fiberglass, look very fast. This is also a big group. I don't care for them, because I find the position very uncomfortable for long periods of time.
Street bikds: Basicly just a stock motorcycle, the old Honda 750 fits here. I would have a windshield as a min. I also like a luggage rack, to put stuff on.
The one trick that I can think of for safty while riding. Watch car drivers heads. The car will go where the nose is pointing. This has saved me many times from the "illeagle left turn" (about #1 motorcycle killer). You can do this while driving your car. As you drive along, expesily when near a shopping center, watch the head of the drivers around you. If they are looking at the shopping center, WATCH OUT! they are going to do something real dumb. Like turn. Women are good at this for shopping centers, Men at gas stations. They are so intenet on what they are doing, they don't see you. (I used to think it was the motorcyle, but I drove a truck that was 13'6" tall and 8' wide and painted bright yellow...they didn't see that either. )
Last bit of advice. GO RIDE. DO It NOW. When your 95 years old, sitting in the wheel chair, drooling like a happy banjo player, it's too late for adventures. I don't care how long you live, life is just too damn short. So live life. Fly, ride, drive, write a book, sing a song, but do something.
Perhaps we should start a motorcycle thread?