Join Date: Feb 2009
Bikes: 2008 Mercier Corvus Steel, 2007 Trek 4300, ~1980 Takara Deluxe 12, 1985 Trek 620 (modernized)
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The answer you're going to get here won't make you too happy. I don't want to come off as a bike snob, because I believe every bike can serve a purpose, but the bike you have is designed to be essentially disposable. The materials in the components are very very cheap.
If you look for a Shimano Alivio crank, or something similar, you'll have a better crank, but the other parts will probably wear-out very quickly if you intend to do more than ride casually across town and keep the bike in a garage when not in use.
The more cost-effective solution in the long run would be to sell that bike you have, for $50-75, eat the loss, and buy an entry level bike-shop bike. If you spend $250 at a bike shop, you will be astonished at the difference in quality versus what you have now. The $250 bike shop bike will likely outlast your commitment to it if it is properly taken care of.