Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Weird brake lever deterioration

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Weird brake lever deterioration

Old 09-25-22, 10:06 AM
  #1  
tenrec
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Weird brake lever deterioration

Any idea what's going on with my brake levers? These are not scratches or scrapes -- they are some sort of curlicue lines in the aluminum of the levers. They remind me of worm damage to wooden ships at sea. These are the original brake levers that came with my bike. Thay are 2009 Shimano Ultegra and they're mounted on a 2009 Trek Madone 4.7. The deterioration began a number of years ago and had been getting gradually worse.

tenrec is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 10:20 AM
  #2  
mdarnton
Full Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Chicago
Posts: 266

Bikes: nothing to brag about

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 111 Post(s)
Liked 186 Times in 108 Posts
Do you wear a wedding ring? This looks like something cut through the surface as a small scratch, and then given an opening the decay spread. Looks worst under your ring finger.
mdarnton is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 10:25 AM
  #3  
Unca_Sam
The dropped
 
Unca_Sam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 2,301

Bikes: Pake C'Mute Touring/Commuter Build, 1989 Kona Cinder Cone, 1995 Trek 5200, 1973 Raleigh Super Course FG, 1966 Schwinn Deluxe Racer, 1960/61 Montgomery Ward Hawthorne "thrift" 3 speed, by Hercules

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1665 Post(s)
Liked 929 Times in 639 Posts
Originally Posted by tenrec View Post
Any idea what's going on with my brake levers? These are not scratches or scrapes -- they are some sort of curlicue lines in the aluminum of the levers. They remind me of worm damage to wooden ships at sea. These are the original brake levers that came with my bike. Thay are 2009 Shimano Ultegra and they're mounted on a 2009 Trek Madone 4.7. The deterioration began a number of years ago and had been getting gradually worse.

Those parts are anodized, or they should be. While the oxide layer created by anodizing is tough, it's not invincible. Besides sanding, one of the only ways to get through anodizing is a strong basic solution, or enough time with a weaker solution.

To be perfectly honest, it looks like someone took a fine grinding stone in a Dremel and let it skip across the surface of your levers. Usually when anodizing wears through it has an obvious cause.
Unca_Sam is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 11:09 AM
  #4  
cxwrench
Senior Member
 
cxwrench's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Nor-Cal
Posts: 3,707

Bikes: lots

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1912 Post(s)
Liked 2,827 Times in 1,446 Posts
Corrosion, nothing more, nothing less.
cxwrench is offline  
Likes For cxwrench:
Old 09-25-22, 11:58 AM
  #5  
jimc101
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Posts: 5,727
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 428 Post(s)
Liked 77 Times in 67 Posts
That's common on older anodized Shimano shifter levers, often seen on the levers from the early 90 onwards, unfortunately
jimc101 is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 12:47 PM
  #6  
tenrec
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Those parts are anodized, or they should be. While the oxide layer created by anodizing is tough, it's not invincible. Besides sanding, one of the only ways to get through anodizing is a strong basic solution, or enough time with a weaker solution.

To be perfectly honest, it looks like someone took a fine grinding stone in a Dremel and let it skip across the surface of your levers. Usually when anodizing wears through it has an obvious cause.
Is there anything that con be done about it? Can the levers be refinished?
tenrec is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 12:48 PM
  #7  
tenrec
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Corrosion, certainly, but in such an odd linear pattern.
tenrec is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 12:50 PM
  #8  
tenrec
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I do wear a wedding ring. I'm not sure it's exposed by my gloves, although that's possible. I see what you mean about the problem being worse in that area.
tenrec is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 01:22 PM
  #9  
sweeks
Senior Member
 
sweeks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chicago area
Posts: 2,205

Bikes: Airborne "Carpe Diem", Motobecane "Mirage", Trek 6000, Strida 2, Dahon "Helios XL", Dahon "Mu XL", Tern "Verge S11i"

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 847 Post(s)
Liked 377 Times in 278 Posts
Has the bike been ridden in the winter, when there might be salt residue on the roads? It certainly does look like corrosion.
sweeks is offline  
Old 09-25-22, 01:45 PM
  #10  
SJX426 
Senior Member
 
SJX426's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 8,924

Bikes: '73 Bottecchia Giro d'Italia, '83 Colnago Superissimo, '84 Trek 610, '84 Trek 760, '88 Pinarello Veneto, '88 De Rosa Pro, '89 Pinarello Montello, '94 Burley Duet, 97 Specialized RockHopper, 2010 Langster, Tern Link D8

Mentioned: 63 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1362 Post(s)
Liked 1,519 Times in 809 Posts
@tenrec - you can remove the levers from the base as an individual part.
Spray with Oven Cleaner and let it sit for no more than 15 min and rinse. The anodizing will be removed.
Polish with Mothers AL polish and it will be fine. The downside is needing to polish periodically.
__________________
Bikes don't stand alone. They are two tired.
SJX426 is offline  
Likes For SJX426:
Old 09-26-22, 12:14 PM
  #11  
MudPie
Senior Member
 
MudPie's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Southern California
Posts: 2,153
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 98 Post(s)
Liked 98 Times in 76 Posts
I assume this is on both R and L levers? Pictures suggest L and R levers.
If true, a ring may not be the only cause, unless you wear rings on both hands.
MudPie is offline  
Old 09-26-22, 02:31 PM
  #12  
Iride01 
Plz hurry Dec 22!
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,901

Bikes: Tarmac Disc Comp Di2 - 2020

Mentioned: 43 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4873 Post(s)
Liked 3,392 Times in 2,353 Posts
If the bike isn't for show or about to be an art exhibit, just don't worry about it. Or buy new if it bothers you that much.
Iride01 is offline  
Old 09-26-22, 03:36 PM
  #13  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 36,467

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 130 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4611 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 481 Times in 321 Posts
Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
Corrosion, nothing more, nothing less.
+1,

You sweat too much. Aluminum and salt don't get on very well, especially with a bit of acidity to help things along. Once your caustic mix gets through the protective surface it's free to attack the base metal with impunity.

Clean them up If you care) with something like Scotchbrite, then apply some kind of clear lacquer to protect them. You don't have to be obsessive, but a periodic wipe with a damp rag can prevent a recurrence.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Likes For FBinNY:
Old 09-27-22, 04:57 PM
  #14  
tenrec
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by MudPie View Post
I assume this is on both R and L levers? Pictures suggest L and R levers.
If true, a ring may not be the only cause, unless you wear rings on both hands.
Yes, it's on both levers. I only wear a ring on one hand.
tenrec is offline  
Old 09-28-22, 07:33 AM
  #15  
bblair
Full Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 435

Bikes: Lynskey R230, Trek 5200, 1975 Raleigh Pro, 1973 Falcon ,Trek T50 Tandem and a 1968 Paramount in progress.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 223 Post(s)
Liked 179 Times in 120 Posts
I'm thinking abrasion from a car rack or something like that.
bblair is offline  
Old 09-28-22, 10:27 AM
  #16  
bboy314
Full Member
 
bboy314's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Pioneer Valley
Posts: 424
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 111 Post(s)
Liked 188 Times in 107 Posts
This is normal corrosion, probably from sweat. I’ve seen hundreds of levers that look just like it.
bboy314 is offline  
Likes For bboy314:
Old 09-28-22, 01:33 PM
  #17  
cxwrench
Senior Member
 
cxwrench's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Nor-Cal
Posts: 3,707

Bikes: lots

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1912 Post(s)
Liked 2,827 Times in 1,446 Posts
Originally Posted by bblair View Post
I'm thinking abrasion from a car rack or something like that.
Not that...we already figured it out a few days ago.
cxwrench is offline  
Old 10-05-22, 03:25 PM
  #18  
rickpaulos
Full Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: middle of the Great Corn Desert
Posts: 335
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 88 Post(s)
Liked 73 Times in 49 Posts
The aluminum wheels on my van looked like that, before they got really bad. From cat urine and road salt. i'd say cat urine does more damage than road salt. And both cause far more damage than human sweat. I've seen plenty of bikes that are relegated to indoor trainer status that were destroyed by sweat. Living in the rust belt, all cars and bikes (and snowblowers) used in winter get destroyed so there isn't much hope in fighting it. Titanium is best at resisting corrosion but I haven't see ti sti levers.

Aluminum forms aluminum oxide on the surface as it cools to a solid. Any minor scratch can expose the underlying aluminum to corrosion. That factory finish is hard to replicate unless you have a lot of patience. A bit of clear spray paint can help protect the finish. There are aluminum colored spray paints but they are a tough color to work with.
rickpaulos is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.