In this the first of Wheels24's series of reviews of the 2014 Pirelli SA Bike of the Year finalists to help YOU choose a winner and perhaps score R1000, we look at the new version of Suzuki’s venerable DL1000 V-Strom. Having previously been impressed by its smaller sibling, the DL650, we were keen to see if the big Strom has been improved as much over its predecessor.Visually, the machine doesn’t disappoint – where the previous iteration developed a reputation for being a solid, user-friendly and extremely likeable machine few of its fans would have pretended that it was beautiful. GALLERY: 2014 Suzuki DL1000 V-StromThe latest version is certainly no eyesore, even if the styling is edging a little close to GS territory. 'ALMOST WITHOUT VICE'Ergonomically, the big Strom is almost without vice. The seating position is comfortably neutral, the controls are simple and within easy reach of your thumbs, and the adjustable windscreen does a good job of keeping the wind at bay (although I did experience some buffeting on my helmet with the screen in its highest position). Being spring-loaded, the screen it can be adjusted to any of its three positions on the roll, a welcome change from manual adjustment of screens that force you to stop to change settings.POWERThe V-twin engine produces hefty torque from fairly low down in the rev range; at around 3000 it feels as if the bulk of its torque is available to do your bidding. The mill is surprisingly smooth for a V-twin (much more so than others I have tested), although it does have a rough patch at just below 3000rpm One complaint about the older version was that it tended to feel unstable at high speed; the new model has been cured of that and remained planted and confidence-inspiring up to (an indicated) 200km/h. The fact that the Strom now sports traction control and ABS only adds to that sense of confidence.Handling is where the bike has most improved over the previous iteration. Although it can’t quite match the agility of the 650 (understandable in a bike that is bigger and heavier) it is still huge fun. With both sure-footed grip and ample torque to slingshot it out of corners, it is surprisingly quick in the twisties without making you feel that you are in over your head.In summary, the big Strom’s positives outweighs its negatives. It both looks and feels better than its predecessor, and it is a bike that you learn to like really quickly.However, it is up against stiff competition for the Bike of the Year title, and while it is overall an enjoyable bike, there is very little about it that really stands out.What will count in its favour: An affordable, fun litre-class all-rounder.What will count against it: ABS can’t be turned off, which limits its off-road utility.2014 SA Bike of the Year finalists: • BMW S1000R • BMW R1200GS Adventure • Ducati 899 Panigale • Ducati Monster 1200 • Kawasaki Z1000 • KTM 1290 Super Duke • Suzuki V-Strom • Yamaha MT-09 • Yamaha MT-07Which bike do you think should win the 2014 SA Bike of the Year award? Email us and we’ll publish your thoughts on Wheels24. Vote for your favourite in our homepage voting booth!You could be one of three email entrants to win one of three R500 shopping vouchers - just for voting!