Several things have changed since I last spent any time on a motorcycle. First, motorcycle safety classes are numerous. I attended one of the MSF classes and learned about a few things that I was doing wrong. I highly recommend attending one of these classes.
Tire design has changed dramatically. My last bike used ribbed front tires that are now only mentioned to illustrate bad handling. This bike also has no inner tubes (thank god).
Armored clothing exists. When I last rode, hard core people rode in a set of leathers. There was no mention of spine protectors or anything else. I just recently purchased a jacket with all sorts of armor in the back, shoulders and elbows. Nice.