Did the course, decided to buy the gear, then the bike. Many places didn't have gear my size (XXL leather jackets, etc....), but most were helpful. Some were not, which is a bit strange, in my opinion. Don't they want repeat customers? Here are the best and worst, from my experience.
Vancouver Yamaha - Got the attention. One guy was on the phone, and got lectured that when customers are in the store, phone calls are to be ended as soon as possible, and the customer attended to. They coudn't help, but they tried.
Burnaby Kawasaki - Too busy talking among themselves to pay attention to a customer, so I took my business elsewhere. The guy selling bikes, by the way, dropped everything and came to help. Him I will go back to again. However, I was there some time ago, and the acted proffesionaly, so perhaps it was an off day. Also, I read many positive things about them here. So, I will probably try again.
Carter - Both branches were helpful. Patrick in Coquitlam was great. very patient, very helpful, not pushy, great advise. Ended up buying most of my gear from him. However, at the Granville Island branch, a salesman tried to convince me that a good bike to start with (I was on the way back from passing my test) is a 750 cc, although I suggested that I will be looking for a 500 cc to start on. I understand they earn commissions according to how much they sell...?
Pacific yamaha - The young lady I spioke to was not very knowledgable, but she tried. However, they didn't have what I needed.
Richmond Motor Sports - Came almost at closing time. Crystal was very patient, and answered every question I had. Came the next day at a more reasonable hour, had Alex help me. Was helpful.
HOWEVER, I bought a Shark helmet, which were all 20% off, so the starting price was $384. I mentioned that I did the course at Pro-Ride, and am a member of this forum, and he said that each would normaly give me 15% off, but they can't give that much, so I will get 20% off. After I left, I checked the bill, and it was for $384. I went back and he said that that was the 20% off, and that I simply didn't understand. The term for this is Bullshit. Therefore, I personaly consider Alex to be dishonest, or at least flexable with the facts, and will not do any more business with him. Other people can do as they chose, but I suggest getting all offers from him in writing. Regarding my lack of understanding, English is my native tongue, I have a degree in Communications, and a degree in Law. Strangly enough, I have managed to understand just about everyone up until now.
Also dealt with Cliff, who suggested that if I am unsure as to what bike to buy, I should come and try out a few, which I did. Also very helpful.
Modern Motorcycling - Very helpful, willing to reach a deal. Didn't buy from there, but only because I couldn't find what I wanted.
North Shore Suzuki - After explaining to me that buying a bike older then 4-5 years is a grave error that no one should make, I didn't bother going back. Gee, they sell mostly new stuff, right?
Imperial - Great place. Doug was very helpful, answered every question I came up with. Someone came into the store looking for something they didn't have, and was referred to another store (helping out the competition, as it were). On a scale of 1 to 10, I would cheerfully give them a 10.
Hope this helps someone. In any case, I felt like sharing my experiences.