WOW. posted yesterday morning and havent been able to get back. What a great response with lots of good advise.
My skid plate broke just in front of the right foot peg. On that narrow part and it snaped completely in half. I have only had the bike for 3 weeks and it broke the first week I got it!
Any how I ride in the desert out side of Phoenix mostly down by the coke ovens and up north of Superior. Fairly rocky country.
I have cased it a few times already and have just gotten it broke in
Casing it isn't the problem. The frame can handle getting widdled away at the rails without any adverse side effects. I have a 2003 with 4 years of desert races and me picking lines like a skateboarder grinds a street curb to prove it. The frame rails and points below the perches look like they have been through a combination cheese grater and sand blaster but they are still there.
What you want to protect is the front of the engine and the sides. IMO, the stock skid plate is perfect in this role.
By running an aftermarket skid plate you:
1. add cost
2. add weight
3. amplify engine noise
4. make oil changes a PIA which could lead to less changes if we are speaking in real world terms
And most importantly, while it has been a topic of constant depate on this board for a number of years, an alu. skid plate creates undo stresses on the frame that contribute to cracking and failure.
Every guy I race with who used an alu. skid plate on his 650 has cracked a frame. When I started racing the 650, I thought that replacing a failed frame would be one of the first costly repairs...never happened. You can write it off as antecdotal but I know what I've seen.
The 2003 is on it's second modified right peg perch, tons of oil filter covers (every strike above any line afforded by alu. plates), three subframes hanging in my rafters, four sets of rims, two holed clutch covers (again, both strikes coming from above), 3 sets of radiators, and of course, the usual "wearables." ...but the frame is still there.