Marin Larkspur - passable touring bike?
I'm heading across Canada this spring with my girlfriend and we're looking for some basic, no frills bikes that will still get us from coast to coast. I'll be pulling a burley nomad so that I can take the majority of the weight, and she'll take a lightly packed rear pannier. I've been looking into low cost bikes and the Marin Larkspur has caught my attention. Keep in mind that I'm very new to biking, but the qualities that are selling me on it are the 48/38/28 crankset (low enough to get me over the rockies), the 36 spoke rims, the lack of suspension (other than on the seatpost - which I think should be alright), and - most of all - the price (about $400).
I can see myself replacing the pedals and the saddle, but the rest looks fine to me. Could anyone make suggestions as to whether they think it'll hold up - and if not, then what might be some key upgrades to make it useable?
This bike is more or less a modern version of the ridged tail MTB but with an aluminum frame. I have a 95 Marin Palasades Trail that I converted into a road bike for commuting and eventually touring too. If you have time you may want to do a quick search for a used one from the mid to early 90's. This cold save you some money and it would be made out of Cromoly steel. I am happy with my Marin frame as it is light and strong, Cromoly steel, and has adequate attachment points for racks, fenders, etc.
My suggestion is to be ruthless with your gear. If you load is light it will be more fun for both of you and many of the possible problems you could have with your bike are mitigated.