I live on a very high and steep hill, I typically roll all the way to the bottom and if traffic doesn't force a full stop I'll use 2nd, but normally I will start in 1st. I don't think this will be hard on the bike but might over time wear out the clutch but that's probably way down the road.
Sometimes I accidentally start out in 2nd because I’m not paying attention when I down shift to a stop. I can do it but I have to feather the clutch in order to get a smooth start. Seems like that will add more wear to the clutch.
I always start in first, unless I forget to reach down and get first. When this has happened I have noticed a sizable dip in RPM which requires more throttle which in turn causes slippage of the clutch.
I made a video demonstrating that these bikes will take off from a dead stop in any gear. The upper gears involve a little clutch slipping but surprisingly not much. Few bikes can do this at all. Of course it is not recommended. But starting in second is not going to wear your bike out. This is my bike and it is modified to be a little more powerful than stock bikes.
Like most here, I instinctively start off in 1st. I usually sit at the stoplight in neutral and, when I notice the cross traffic lights go yellow, pull in the clutch and stomp on the shifter. I've accidentally started in 2nd a few times, mostly when I'm downshifting as I approach the intersection, and come stop before I hit neutral. Doing that has not, in my opinion, seemed to cause me to abuse the clutch.
For the record, I wouldn't mind a higher final gear. I do a lot of highway riding and would love to have the option to drop 500 rpm at 90-95 mph. When I had my Road Star I was looking into getting a smaller sprocket for the rear wheel, apparently there was one of a HD that could be made to fit the RS. Just never got around to it. But if there was a smaller one that fit the TS111, I'd be all over it.
Well, sometimes I'll leave the house in 2nd gear when first starting off because sometimes Miss Priss doesn't like to shift out of 1st gear in the morning, little bidtch. I have started out in 2nd from a light or stop sign a couple times by accident, no biggie. And a couple of times on purpose just to try/do it. Bike didn't seem to mind it. But normally I start out in 1st.
I always start in 1st. I also never sit at a light in neutral. Need to be ready to move quickly if you see a possible problem developing. I also always watch at least the 1st 2 cars stop behind me. Way to many distracted drivers.