Viable question: did Nicky Hayden ever stop riding for Honda?
Sure, he signed with Ducati in 2009 and together they fought hard for MotoGP wins, but to those that know him--or had known him before he left for Europe--there was never much question as to which manufacturer he would pledge his allegiance to if he had to put his hand on an OEM Bible.
Nick Hayden literally grew up wanting to race for Honda in Grand Prix, this after his dreams of wanting to win the Camel Pro dirt track championship on a Honda like his hero Bubba Shobert faded.
Even after he'd been forced out of the Repsol Honda MotoGP team Hayden continued to have a very close relationship with American Honda. All of Hayden's dirt bikes were red, and on the shelf in every garage he used there were cans of Honda's Spray Cleaner. Beyond bikes and chemicals was the close relationship he has had for ever a decade with people at American Honda. Emails were traded after Grand Prixs, Christmas cards were mailed. "Good luck on that red bike," they'd say to him when they could not bring themselves to say 'good luck on that Ducati'. He remains on a first name basis with people in many different corners of Torrance, California.
Hayden is back on a Honda for 2014 with the Aspar team. For some, it's like he never left the Honda fold.
Because he didn't.