Bestop Sunrider for Hardtop Jeep Wrangler JK

Jan. 12, 2017 By Pete Bach
Jeep Wrangler JK owners who want to keep their hardtop on but want the ability to enjoy open-air freedom will like this new Sunrider for Hardtop Bestop product.

Versatility. That's a great word that has been used to describe our beloved Jeeps since 1941.  Top up, top down, doors on or off, four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive... Whatever you want, Jeeps Wranglers have built their reputation on being able to do it all. The JK has also ushered in an area where the Wrangler, while still very capable, is also more sophisticated, comfortable and quiet. While ergonomic enhancements have recently made their way to the Jeep Wrangler, the advent and popularity of the Jeep Wrangler steel, full hard doors and hardtop seem to have reduced the Jeep JK's versatility, or maybe more fairly they’ve simply made it more difficult to "wrangle" out some of that versatility from the JK. 

Jeeps are more fun topless, and removing a hardtop while on the trail or around town is not feasible because storing the pieces becomes impossible. While the Freedom Top on current JKs is a great piece of ingenuity since they can be easily removed, the panels are simply too large to remove and install when on the trail or the road. We can thank Jeep for the panel storage bag that comes with all new Wranglers... but who are they kidding?

The Bestop Sunrider for Hardtop replaces the two front panels on the Wrangler JK’s three-piece hardtop to offer essentially a sunroof option for those who want to retain the vast majority of their hardtop.

Bestop has come up with a great solution to this dilemma. After feedback from its customers who wanted a better solution to the Freedom Panels, they listened and then delivered the Sunrider for Hardtop. The Sunrider for Hardtop is a simple solution that replaces the Freedom Panels with a small soft top that easily flips open but that attaches to the rest of the Jeep's hard top. It's a simple concept that relatively simple to install as well, with no drilling and no major hassle. 

Here are the parts for the Bestop Sunrider for Hardtop kit.

Remove the two front Freedom Top pieces for the three-piece stock Jeep hardtop. 

With the top off, the Sunrider pieces can be installed. 

Installation Tips
Installing the Bestop Sunrider for Hardtop is literally a 30-minute job. It simply uses a new left and right upper soft top channel (much like the upper part of a door surround) and a couple of small brackets.

The upper channels bolt in along the stock roll bar.

The Bestop directions call for a small incision to be made in the roll bar padding. Do yourself a favor and make a large incision; otherwise you'll be fishing to thread that hole for more time than is needed. Make sure that the rear most brackets and the factory parts are installed and tight before pulling the top closed, because if not the frame will pull up on the rear area of the top that will create a gap.

The included instructions detail the assembly, which only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. Just be sure to fasten everything tight!

While hardly noticeable when installed on the Jeep, we still get many comments and questions about the Sunrider. The most commonly asked is, "Is it noisier than the hardtop with the Freedom Panels installed?" Our answer is yes. The Sunrider for Hardtop does create slightly more noise in the Jeep cab, but no more noise than a factory soft top, as it uses the same latch/header design. We also get the question "Does it leak?" We've had our top in rain and snow and can report that we have not had one drop in the Jeep cab.

Once installed, the Sunrider for Hardtop looks great and is weatherproof.

Our favorite part to demonstrate for inquiring minds is the action of the Sunrider. By simply unlatching the header from the windshield frame, a one handed motion is all that is needed to flip back the Sunrider while sitting in the driver's seat. It then rests behind the opening in the hardtop for that open-air driving experience that all Jeepers love. 

The Sunrider for Hardtop reuires just a one-handed action to flip the top back.

With the top laid back we can have open-air driving when the weather is nice.

We got our Sunrider for Hardtop in Bestop's newest premium Black Twill. We hesitated with this fabric at first, but now we wouldn't have any other material for our soft tops. The dark black looks good, and with the sound deadening effects and easy cleaning aspect we now think this material choice is a must for any Jeep top. While the Black Twill is the more expensive option, we'd go for it every time. 

Our Sunrider for Hardtop is here to stay.

Cold mornings and warm afternoons are the perfect match for the Sunrider for Hardtop. In fact, we are finally using the Freedom Panel storage bags now that we have our new top installed.  Our bags now store the panels in their permanent location:  in the basement. Bestop has truly brought some versatility and ease of use back to our Wrangler.

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