Thanks to Charles, Brenden and Chetan for your input.
Charles and Brenden, not really sure what you mean by "limit your functionality as well", but I take your points. As a matter of fact, in the past I've been able to demonstrate to potential clients that the advantage of a Kentico system over many other systems is that it is a standard asp.net application, and that any competent .net developer would be able to pick up the Visual Studio project and "run with it". On the other hand, a project (site) that is purely Portals mode will require quite a bit of Kentico-specific knowledge to manage and implement any future modifications.
And Brenden, that is the strangest CMSRepeater I've ever seen! No transformations? You can use web parts in aspx files with transformations exactly as you do in portal files. As a matter of fact, I try to use custom web parts with transformations for custom functionality wherever possible - the power and simplicity of transformations is second-to-none! Perhaps that repeater is an example of something implemented by a .net developer who had no Kentico-specific knowledge, but it also shows that - even though it's a "bad" way to go about things - it IS possible to implement something that your client wants immediately into their .net Kentico project using your standard .net skills.
I agree with your sentiment, Brenden, about forcing clients to become dependent on the developer, but the situation I'm describing here is really where a client WANTS the developer to do everything for them (except actual content creation/editing) - and if the relationship with the client breaks down and they want to move on to another developer, they can simply find a developer with adequate .net skills who can take over the project.
Upgrades - I've upgraded many aspx projects over the years, one or two of them from a version such as 3.1a right the way through to version 7 all at one time, and the only problems I've ever encountered were related to the changes in the Kentico API than to any customizations that I had been implemented. So I'm not sure why you believe upgrading an aspx site is more difficult than upgrading a portals site.
Nevertheless, only last week I've discovered that, when a site/project has been originally developed in portals mode and you want to "upgrade" it, you can just export it from it's current version and then import it into the higher version. There are still a few things you've got to fix up manually, but the whole process was much less time-consuming and painful than having to step through all those "upgrade" procedures - which includes having to have individual VS projects for each version along the way, and "run" the site at each version step to complete the relevant upgrade. I did this with a version 5.5R2 portals site, importing it into the latest version 8.2. The project also has a complex custom module, which required some modifications to the c# code to update various classes and procedures, but as I said, much less time-consuming and painful than actually "upgrading" the original site. AND all the content comes with the import, including all the database records created by the custom module.