How Do I Release Shimano Brand Front Cantilever Brakes?


Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
How do I release the front cantilever brakes on a Giant FCR Alliance, approximately 2009-ish? These brakes are Shimano brakes. I got my Euro-style workstand and I'm anxious to learn how to get the front tire off the bike.

Thanks for any advice!

That does look like a true cantilever brake. Observe the "straddle" cable that gets yanked upward and pulls the two calipers toward the rim. One end of this cable will be bolted to a caliper; the other will have a knob, for lack of a better term, that gets hooked under a slotted fitting on the other caliper.

Squeeze the calipers together and pop the knobbed end of the now loose straddle cable out of the fitting.
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Thanks again! You gave me some courage. I spent some time with the brake and figured out how to release it. Here is a photo of the part that I needed to "pull out". My Zinn book does not explain diagrammatically how to do this, and I watched a few videos on how to fix flats, but apparently cantilever front brakes don't get featured in such videos. I even went to an REI "Bike Maintenance Basics" class last night, and the demonstration bike the instructor used has sidepull brakes.

Thanks for your help, I was able to free the brakes and get the bike on the repair stand.



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As a note, I just today received the 6th edition of "The Bicycling Guide To Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair" by Todd Downs. On page 72 is a photo showing how to release a cantilever brake, exactly as shown above. The 5th Edition of this same book doesn't have this photo, it states textually what to do. The Zinn book doesn't have either diagrams or photos of how to release cantilever brakes. It does have diagrams of cantilevers, but they don't show how to release these.

So if I had just had the 6th edition of Downs', I wouldn't have fussed so much! The 6th edition is a big improvement over the 5th but you all probably know that. Even more -- the 6th edition is 5 years old now and begs for an update. Rodale Press spams me with email ads for this book at least least twice a week, ad nauseum. So maybe they are trying extra hard to get rid of old print copies and make way for a 7th edition???? I don't know. I do know they spam me. And spam me.


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