___If you are willing to really drop her down with the stick, you may
be able climb without assist but it is a slow proposition. While climbing in the Insight 5-speed, I would see a 4-bar assist burst and immediately back off the accelerator to remove, 4-bars, back off again, 4-bars, back off, and by the third or fourth cycle, I would downshift to the next lower gear … Once you are down to second gear at a higher RPM just below V-TEC engagement (~ 2,700 RPM in the Insight), you may find a maintainable, higher RPM w/ no assist, speed while climbing also? I could climb 5 + % grades like this without assist but at speeds as low as 20 - 25 mph
while still receiving 40 - 60 mpg in the truck climbing lanes using the above technique …
___Riding the pack as you described as well as cycling does decrease the packs longevity and I cannot think of a harder hit then to hold 5th gear during a climb. It sounds as if you may have found a happy medium?
___Wayne R. Gerdes