Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Bikes: Rans Rockst (Retro rocket) Rans Enduro Sport (Retro racket) Catrike 559, Merin Bear Valley (beater bike).
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Probably you just need to push a little harder. In a pinch you slide a 5mm allen wrench under the outside of the hood, there's a little groove in the metal part of the lever to guide you.
Brifters should only be tight enough to keep them from moving during normal use. That way if you fall, they just pivot out of the way insted of breaking. Lucky for you, that's what it sounds like your's did.