This is a follow up to this post: How to increase brake responsiveness on Microshift style STI brifters paired with mechanical disc brake

I have mountain bike mechanical disc brakes on a steel gravel bike. I have a set of brifters installed. I'm guessing the fact that I have mountain mechanical disc brakes are the reason why I have a mushy feeling on my brake levers no matter how optimally setup it is.

I'm considering getting road mechanical disk brakes. There a many options available. Initially, I only looked into mountain mechanical disc brakes because I figured they are more sturdy and appropriate for a gravel bike (especially steel). Is this accurate? Or is a pair of road mechanical disc brakes just as safe and performant? I have a poseidon x bike that comes with the Microshift Advent X brifters paired with the Tektro MD-C510. I figured I can use the same model mechanical disc brakes on the steel gravel bike I'm putting together.

  • 1
    There is no reason why road disc brakes in general would be less safe or weaker than MTB disc brakes. Road brake levers have a different cable pull but that doesn’t really affect the behavior when paired with road bike brakes. I think the only difference is that 180mm rotors are generally not available for road bikes. But I think in the MTB world they are mainly used for downhill.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 7:09
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    As a point of reference, I have a Kona Rove with Tektro MDC550 Mechanical brakes. It's a steel gravel bike with 160mm rotors sold with mechanical road brakes as is from the factory. There is no reason to assume that this would be unsafe. Also, in my personal experience there is more than enough stopping power for this bike.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


Cable pull is probably incorrect with Brifter and MTB brakes - covered In this question.

The brifters (you don't state the make/model) are normally road cable pull (short pull), but you can get long pull brifters. MTB discs are long pull, about twice the cable pull is required to activate the brakes. Matching MTB caliper to short pull road levers means you get more travel, but half the pull force you should get, resulting in the 'mushy' poor brake feel you have.

Frame material in immaterial to the brakes used.

Almost any road pull caliper will work better than what you have. If you like the Tektro MD-C510's, there good reason to stick with them (compatible spare pads etc). You could also replace the brifters with long pull, but that would probably be more expensive and more work.


My tourer sometimes thinks it's a gravel bike - I take it off-road quite a lot in some horribly muddy conditions, and in water up to the hubs (the latter not deliberately). That's got (road) BB5s with 160mm discs, and they have plenty of stopping power in all conditions when adjusted well and with sintered pads* that aren't too worn.

If you look at BB7s, that come in road and mountain versions, there's no difference in the housing or the braking surfaces, just in the lever arm. That demonstrates that "road" vs. "mountain" is to do with compatibility rather than usage conditions.

* A crash I had a couple of years ago was caused by excessive pad and rotor wear at the front, and melting the resin bonding the "ceramic" pads at the back.

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