A couple of thoughts...
Just this weekend I was riding and I'll make a very long story short, the bike dropped on the right side. Gently, but down nonetheless.
Damage report: I challenge anyone to find it. Very small scratch on the engine guard on the bottom side. Can only be seen if someone is on their hands and knees. The back of the bike came squarely on the lower, outside edge of the bag. Small scrape on the bottom side - again, hands and knees. I won't be doing anything to fix it as it would be a complete waste of money.
I'd buy the guards if I thought I wanted more chrome. To me, drops and fixes are a part of ownership.
Onto the second part - I came off a BMW K1200GT to XR. Two completely diffrent bikes. I sold the BMW because... of drops. It's a high riding bike that is top heavy and when it dropped, no matter how gentle, it was a $1,200 minimum repair. I'm much more comfortable, confident and relaxed on the XR with it's lower center of gravity. The BMW's have their bugs too, but they cost huge. Known fixed drive issues, fuel injection stuff and requiring a PHD to work on.
For the record, I've never, ever felt as if I was about to drop my XR. It dropped because I rode it across a low bridge here in Hill Country that had water running over it. Slick as ice. Basically, a bad decision to cross. Other than that, I love the bike.