Cantilever breaks are pain (literally) to release!!
I've got Shimano cantilever breaks on my cross bike, and man are they a pain in the arse to release whenever I need to pull off my wheel. I can never get it the break to release nice and quick, and it usually requires enough force (releasing and re-engaging) that the tips of my thumbs are left numb for like a day afterwards.
Anyone else have this problem? Am I doing something wrong? Any tips to make this a little more smooth?
Mine can be a little tough if I keep the pads close to the rim wall where I like 'em. If you adjust the pads a little farther out, you might not have such an ordeal. But, your lever travel will be longer.
That's what I attempt to do, but the ball that catches to engage the brake doesn't want to roll over the lip very easily, so it most definitely takes longer than 2 seconds...
Are your brakes Shimano, or another brand?
Shimano, other brands are the same as well. Do you have barrel-adjusters on the lever? Screw them inwards to relieve tension on the cable and the brakes will open up wider. Then squeezing the pads will free up the crossover cable more. You should also new a new crossover cable that has a little handle on the ferrule end, that makes grabbing it with your fingers and pulling off easier.