Review: Bestop Supertop NX for a Jeep Wrangler TJ
Even though there are still some warms days ahead, summer is winding down – even in Southern California. We pulled off the hard top on our TJ Wrangler months ago to enjoy the sun, but with cooler evening temperatures and a little drizzle (it’s called “Storm Watch” in California, and even Californians think it’s ridiculous), it was time to get some more cover for our Wrangler.
We had a Bestop Supertop on the Jeep that was purchased by the previous owner many years ago. It was miss-matched and had seen its share of wear and tear. It was time for a new top. Bestop’s new and upgraded soft top introduced earlier this year, the Supertop NX, seemed like a good option.
The new Supertop NX is designed to improve upon the Supertop by offering more OEM-style hardware and a host of features that Wrangler owners can appreciate. Head product engineer George Stickles explained that the customers asked for certain upgrades and Bestop listened.
“The SuperTop NX utilizes more of the OEM design with some improvements [such as the] rain gutter on the Bestop NX door surrounds, the tensioning bracket to tighten fabric top, and the Bestop top arch to control water puddling,” Stickles explained.
Along with upgraded hardware, the Supertop NX offers sturdy door surrounds that Stickles mentioned to provide a firm and secure closure when shutting the doors. The durable yet flexible sailcloth fabric used for the NX is designed to maintain its shape in all temperatures, is mildew-resistant and features UV inhibitors to maintain its color and help reduce color fade. It is also designed to provide better insulation to keep warmth in during the winter and the heat out during the summer. The new Supertop NX also features tinted windows instead of the clear ones found on the Supertop.
Other new features are also found on the NX, such as the new bow mount adjustment plates that allows for adjusting the tension of the top. To provide a better experience when driving at highway speeds, Bestop’s aforementioned “top arch” is included with the Supertop NX to support the top and help prevent loud flapping over the front seat when at highway speeds, and as Stickles noted helps prevent pooling during rainy weather. The quick-release bow knuckles allow for easy removal of the top without the need for tools. Also, the Supertop NX offers the ability to fold back the top to create a sunroof in a matter of seconds (only the YJ models don’t offer this feature).
Although the original Supertop is still a great soft top, on paper the Supertop NX definitely sounds like a real upgrade over the original. We were sold. Now we just needed to install it.
The first rule of thumb when installing a soft top is to do so on a warm day. It’s ideal to actually lay the material out to warm up in the sun – on grass or somewhere where the windows won’t get scuffed up would be ideal. Bestop suggests doing the install in at least 72-degree weather. The instructions say the installation is “moderately easy” and calls for about three hours of install time. Although one person can do the job, there are a few points where a second set of hands will be helpful. All that’s really needed in terms of tools is an adjustable wrench, torx wrench, Phillips screwdriver, power drill, silicone sealant, and Bestop calls for safety glasses during installation.
We pulled out our top and took inventory on all the parts. We laid the top fabric on the grass to warm in the sun and started to piece together the rear bow, and thus we began our Supertop NX installation.
The directions do a pretty good job of covering the install, so we won’t cover the step-by-step process here. But having just installed and uninstalled the original Supertop earlier in the year, it was interesting to compare the two kits. With more OEM-style pieces, the NX definitely feels sturdier. For instance, the rear bow actually pivots on the roll bar since it includes an attachment for this, and the quick disconnect makes it easy to fold down when you want the top off. Also, the composite door surrounds on the NX offer a much more secure close when shutting the doors.
The factory-style windshield channel is also a new touch. During the install, it was strange to actually screw the soft top fabric into the channel, considering on the original Supertop the channel is installed and the top slides into it with no permanent screws. However, the more fixed NX version allows for the top to easily be installed using the factory latch slots, which is a plus. It also allows the option to quickly and easily pull open the top for the “sun rider” sun roof option. We just took our time during this portion of the install.
Overall, the Supertop NX is a clear upgrade over the original Supertop. It’s nearly a full-on factory replacement soft top that offers some additional features and upgrades from Bestop. The Supertop NX fort the TJ Wrangler (1997-2006) is available in four colors that include black denim, black diamond, khaki diamond and spice (tan). The NX is available for other Wranglers including the YJ, TJD, JK and JKU. The Bestop Supertop NX also comes with a two-year limited warranty.
The Supertop NX was installed on our current Overland TJ Project. The first step was the installation or our 4-inch Skyjacker suspension kit, BFGoodrich Tires and ATX Wheels. Up next we will be doing some front axle repair with M.I.T. in El Cajon, California, who will also help us with the install of our new G2 diff covers, 4.56 gears as well as our Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differentials. Stay tuned.