*Shifted from the follow-up post: Are road mechanical disc brakes safe to pair with a steel gravel bike
Disclaimer: It's not unsafe in my experience but I am unsure how safe this setup is, so perform this at your own risk. Some manufacturers advise against this for certain brake models (i.e. TRP's hybrid hydraulics/mechnaical brake - some content creator on youtube contacted the manufacturer).
I have a cheap MTB which I converted to drop handlebar using Sensah brifters. Those are road-pull but I managed to use them with TX805 mechanical brakes (single piston MTB disc brakes). How? Preload the brake arm.
- Adjust the brakes like you would for single piston system
- Preload the arm by a little (10-20%) of the arm range of movement. To preload, simply unscrew the bolt that secures your brake cable, move the arm inwards like it does during braking. Then tighten the bolt again. What this does is it makes the moving brake pad closer, which gives you more power in your brakes before the levers bottoms out.
For this to work well, two conditions:
i) Your rotors are almost straight. Otherwise, true it. It's not that difficult with an affordable tool.
ii) You cannot using Road calipers which has a far more limited range of motion. Mechanical MTB disc brake calipers should work well.
My experience with the Sensah 8-speed (Reflex) brifter with TX805 brakes was very good. Much more power, but obviously you should adjust for modulation that fits you.
Does a road-pull brake caliper guarantees a better breaking experience with the road-brifters? For me it didn't. I bought a pair of BR-R517 and the braking power was bad. And you can't preload the arm (and you shouldn't anyway since it's road-pull compatible). My front wheel won't even lock when I bottom out the brifter while rolling the bike (unseated) during testing. It was horrifying, at the least to say. The brake calipers were brand new. I returned it immediately after noticing the brakes functioning less than 40-50% of the TX805.
Again, I am not sure how safe is pre-loading the caliper arm so do this at your own risk. I've been riding the bike for about a year now, and not a single issue except you have to r-pad in every now and then when the brake pad wears.