About a month ago I got a new(old) bike with downtube shifters and those classic brakes. I've been extremely happy with the bike and the other day I decided to chop off the drops and make the bars onto bullhorns since I never used drops.
I took it for a ride and noticed the the brake leverage that I was getting was way more efficient compared to the way they used to be. Out of saddle acceleration has improved a lot too.
On the next ride I stopped at the red light behind one left turning car which I usually don't do. I run most of the reds, but that time I decided to politely wait and take it easy because I was still getting used to the new setup. The light turned green and I accelerated just enough to match the speed of the car in front of me. As soon as I got into the bike lane at the end of the turn, I started accelerating even more.
At that point the car in front of me just decided to make the right turn without blinkers on while I was about 7 ft. behind it in the bike lane. I was moving pretty fast at that point and when I realised the coplexity of my situation, I prepared for the impact but really dug into my brakes.
It took about 1 second for me to stop about a half a foot away from the impact. That one second seemed like about ten minutes. My whole life flashed in front of my eyes.
One of the things that I remember was the control I had over my braking. I pressed jast hard enough for the wheels not to lock up. I also remember my bike moving from side to side as I was braking and the gradual strenghtening of my grip as I was slowing down.
The person in the car did not even notice me. As I continued to pedal, my feet started shaking like crazy and as the whole thing was going rewind in my head I realised that I would have never stopped if I had drops style brake leverage.
I am surre that newer style brakes are more efficient on drops, but the setup that I used to have (1984 style) would never have stopped me on time and I would have had to deal with the consequences.