I imagine comments will begin to really roll in here shortly, but as I was the first to fall in here I will give as much as I know.
I'm not too much of an expert either, but I can say this: if cost is a concern but time is not, surf craigslist and ebay. See if you can nab a vintage cruiser for near the cost of a new one. I have owned and ridden more than one. You'd be getting a better-than-average steel frame and sturdier components, compared to much of the big-box made-in-China tripe that we see all the time. I've been lucky with my Micargi Huntington, but I'm not waiting around. I'm transitioning to an old Higgins frame, prepping it slowly at present. The retail store bikes are MOSTLY equal. I tend to lean toward steel frames. If you want a really high quality aluminum frame that won't crack on you, that could run into some dough. I don't know enough to suggest brand names there.
I hear Grubee engines are good, for the two stroke line. I'm assuming you're looking at two-strokes from your earlier post. The key here is to buy it from a reputable company that will assist you when/if you are in need. To the left and right are companies that many people on this forum have had good experiences with. Pirate, Venice, SBP, Dax, and many other good ones, many of whom have members on the forum.
In short, you've demonstrated that you already know the best thing to do: consult a forum of experienced individuals who are ready, willing and able to give you whatever answers we can and guide you as best we can. Keep on asking questions until you're riding. Then before long you may find yourself answering a few here.