So, 21 yo mountain bike w/o quick release brake system. Reinstalling a front tire that was repaired but confused on easiest/simpliest way to release brakes so the fat 'ol tire can be seated. I do realize I can deflate the tire but wanted to learn another method. I don't want to create a mess by going at it w/o a bit of guidance - any help would be most appreciatedenter image description here

  • If there's enough slack to permit it, you can simply lift the straddle cable out of the "hook" at the end of the brake cable. (Sometimes you need to tighten the barrel adjuster to create the slack.) Otherwise, loosen the adjusting nut in the bottom left of your picture. Sometimes it's possible to lift the knob end of the straddle cable out of the pocket on the brake arm, but usually that requires more slack than you will have. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 22:38

3 Answers 3


The intended method is to unhook the cable from the far cantilever in the photograph. Hopefully the straddle cable end fitting has a wedge-shaped bit sticking out of the back of the calliper, as visible on the far left here: Picture of cantilever brakes with straddle cable with wedge to grab.. Squeeze the two brake arms together, and pull on this wedge, and lift the metal cylindrical part out of the slot. If there is no wedge shaped piece, push the cable into the caliper to free it. Some straddle cables have a piece of metal on the cable to help you do this but I can't see one in your photo. There is video and pictorial explanation here: http://www.madegood.org/bikes/repair/open-a-cantilever-brake/


There should actually be a quick release option with those older cantilever brakes. On the caliper on the left (if you are looking directly at the bike from the front) where the straddle cable attaches to the caliper is a small metallic object connected to the cable that you can pull out of the caliper. This will release the brake so you can remove/ replace the wheel.

  • Agreed - this is better than releasing the yoke cable's retaining nut, or unhooking the hanger from the yoke cable.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 21:08

I see two ways to release that. On the non-nutted brake arm there appears to be a groove the cable can move around in to release the barrel end from that arm. Alternatively, you can also pull a little slack in the straddle cable from both sides and un-hook it from the yoke hanger.

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