It has been theoretized that older non-aero brake levers have poor braking from the hoods due to their different pivot geometry. While this effect is probably true, there is another effect: poor mechanical advantage combined with the general weakness for braking from the hoods that is present on all brake levers.
Old road bikes have single pivot sidepulls that are notorious for poor
centering. The single pivot sidepull has a spring whose spiral section is not at the
pivot point unlike the spiral section of a V brake or cantilever brake
spring. Instead, the spiral section can be seen to be in mid-air.
Thus, unlike cantilevers and V brakes, single pivot sidepulls have
unreliable centering because the end of the return spring slides across
the pin it touches, and unreliable coefficient of friction in this
interface due to accumulating dirt causes unpredictable centering.
To fight this poor centering, old brakes have 1:1 mechanical advantage
and old levers about 4:1 mechanical advantage to result in 4:1 MA.
In contrast, new brakes for normal pull ratio levers (dual pivot sidepulls
or properly configured cantilevers) have 1.5:1 MA and new aero levers
5:1 MA to result in 7.5:1 MA.
Drop bar V brake levers used with V brakes also have about 7.5:1 MA.
Even despite their low 4:1 system MA and the accompanying huge pad clearances,
single pivot sidepulls might still
occasionally need a drop of oil at the interface between the pin and the
sliding return spring. This oil makes the coefficient of friction at this
interface predictable and thus returns the brakes to good centering.
Because V brakes and cantilever brakes have reliable centering, they can
be run with the low pad clearance needed by 7.5:1 MA.
The dual pivot sidepulls solves the centering issue in another manner: it
has forced centering and still the same old spiral section location
problem in the return spring.
As a result, dual pivot sidepulls cannot track a wobbly wheel like one that
is severely out of true due to spoke breakage.
V brakes and cantilever brakes can track a wobbly wheel, and thus, it is heavily recommended to use V brakes or cantilever brakes instead of dual pivot sidepulls.
Of these, cantilevers even have a cable pull ratio the same as dual pivot
sidepulls, so using cantilevers does not need using non-standard pull ratio levers!