The pair of levers, shown below, came installed on a Motobecane. They were not original to the bike; but that's academic for the sake of this post. Fact is, I have never seen rubber brake hoods in such tragically-odd condition. This folks, is what happens to brake hoods after the bike has been hanging in the loft of a garage in Southern California for 30 continuous years. Seriously - the previous owner hung the bike up in his garage 30 years ago, and just took it down two weeks ago to place an ad on Craigslist.
It wasn't difficult to remove the levers, but I faced a significant challenge in cleaning off the coagulated gum rubber.
At first I used a narrow-blade plastic putty knife; but this proved too flimsy to pry off the congealed goop. Then I remembered a similar situation about two years ago, where the dried, cracked rubber hoods had adhered to a pair of Modolo levers. I used a simple process involving hot water, a plastic calk remover, and patience.
I did the final clean up on the Modolo levers with some mineral spirits or paint thinner - can't remember which.
The same technique worked great for these Superbe levers. I haven't done the final, solvent phase yet, but will when ready to put new hoods on.
Soak in 140 degree water for 15 minutes. Use caution when removing as the metal is HOT!
You can see the calk remover here. For the most part, the old rubber
just peeled away from the metal.
Ummm.... old gum rubber. Goes great in salads or use as a dessert topping!
A metal pick is great for the small, stubborn bits.
Lots of rubber had melted into the cable groove.
Most people reach for the solvents first, and ask questions later. Just remember, water is the universal solvent. I learned that in 8th grade science with Mr Tuttle. He's the same person that taught me about using a Bunsen burner and how eyebrows do, indeed, grow back in six to eight weeks. The lesson here is simpler and much less painful. Never underestimate the power of hot water on loosening up gunky particles, sticky dried-on grease, or melted gum rubber hoods. And please, keep the cards and letters coming.