Yeah, I am not sure why they are there either, I mean, no other bike's that I have owned had them on. If you are gonna have rock deflectors, maybe a large plexiglass shield placed over the whole front ofthe bike would do a better job, but why that one little area in the center of the telescoping forks?
Personally I like the looks of them.
I know they are black plastic and perhaps cheapen up the bike to some eyes but not mine, at least not yet.
One day I might lose them too.
I want more black on my bike so why should I lose them now!
The chances you will take a rock strike to that part of the tube isn't all that great in my opinion anyway.