On or Off; front chain guard

I just bought a 01 yzf426 and the last owner didn't have any front chain guard on it. I ride trails and sometimes mud in the winter. Is it safe not to have anything there? Should I but the OEM guard or is there an aftermarket guard that works better?

Strictly speaking, it safer to have the guard than not. I don't run one, however. Mud and brush can get caught behind the guard and cause trouble,but only if it's there.

I would think that the steel gaurd should be kept in place to protect the case from the chain, should it happen to break. the plastic peace probley doesnt need to be there.

I would think that the steel gaurd should be kept in place to protect the case from the chain, should it happen to break. the plastic peace probley doesnt need to be there.
You are correct (except that the steel guard is actually aluminum). The flat aluminum guide plate that sits just in front of the sprocket, commonly called a "case saver" is necessary to help prevent the chain from climbing off the front sprocket under certain slack conditions.

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