I've encountered folks like your BMW guy.
The problem with 125-250cc bikes is everyone calls them "beginner" bikes. Sure, they're OK to learn on, but everyone forgets they fulfill a very important role: low-cost commuter bike. I started on a 150cc Chinese scoot; very cheap, 80 MPG, but couldn't do highway, and parts kept failing. HD riders at work would jokingly give me grief over riding a scooter. I told them I paid $1000 for it, and it did 50mph. That made them shut up. Plus, I loved the get-up-n-go of it, automatic, and light-weight... you could sling that thing around and zip around town so easy. But, as a Chinese scoot, it pooped out.
Moved on to a 400cc Burgman, because I wanted to do highway. I got compliments from other riders over how nice the scoot looked, and the thing got 60 MPG. However, it handled like a pregnant cow, and maintenance was expensive.
I switched to a 750 Honda Shadow, because I wanted to ride a "real" bike. Cruiser-style lacked full gauges (had to use a trip odo to judge how much gas was left), no fairing left me wet after light rain, and it only got 45-50 MPG. No storage, and accessories for it, like saddle bags, luggage racks and top cases, were crazy-expensive, too... especially if you wanted locking versions. Wasn't getting the savings I thought I would be getting by owning that motorcycle, so I moved DOWN to a 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 250... 70 MPG, 90mph down the road, cheap maintenance, cheap gas, light-weight compared to 750 hog let me whip it around while riding again... it had the agility I loved from the 150cc scooter, but the power of a real motorcycle. Quieter... I know that sounds stupid to say, but I really don't like brappy cruiser bikes. Got it practically brand new for $3k (only had 60 miles on it, because the previous owner's wife tried it once and decided she didn't want to ride).
Is it a beginner bike? I guess so. But, what people fail to realize is when they move UP the cc chain, the cost-savings of using a motorcycle vs. car go DOWN. By the time you hit some 600+cc bikes, you might as well buy a car, because the cost of purchase + MPG is almost comparable. Plus, if you get in an accident in a car, the medical costs will most likely be less than a motorcycle accident. The 250cc range is perfect for commuters to save gas while still being able to do highway. So many folks seem to overlook that in their ego-trip up the cc chain, as they quickly dispose of their "beginner" 250 bike.