Review: Bestop Supertop NX for a Jeep Wrangler TJ

Sep. 29, 2011 By Josh Burns

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.

We waited for a warm sunny afternoon to install the new Bestop Supertop NX so the material would be flexible.

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.

One of the greatest new features on the Supertop NX is the quick-release option for the side bows. After installing the pivot bracket onto the factory sport bars, the side bow can easily lock into place or be removed.

“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.

The quick-release attachment makes installation and removing the top after installation very easy. It’s also a high pivot point that makes the geometry of the top work well.

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.

After attaching the side bows, we pulled the rear bow back into place.

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.

With the rear bow installed, we screwed the stay pads into the pre-drilled holes in the bow to help keep it in place.

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.

The heavy-duty door surrounds are constructed of sturdy composite plastic. They install easily and provide a secure seal when the door is closed.

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.

Door surround knobs help provide adjustability during the 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.

Bestop includes a new “top arch” in its Supertop NX kit, which helps provide more support for the top to create a quieter ride at highway speeds and reduce puddling in rainy conditions.

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. 

There’s a right way and a wrong way. When installing the tailgate mounts, don’t do what we did and install them backwards (left image). You should not see the L or R letters once installed properly (right image). Since we had a previous Supertop on this Jeep, we did not need to drill small holes in the Jeep. If you do, make sure to only drill small, 1/8” holes for each and be sure to have silicone sealant on hand to seal the hole once done.

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.

This is the step that’s quite different on the NX over the original Supertop. The fabric of the soft top is actually secured to the header with screws. The front of the fabric does have small guide holes and the instructions explain the process, but it’s a little unnerving drilling into a brand new top. Just take your time.

Once the head is installed, slide the header with attached top forward and begin to install the top by snapping the rear flaps to the rear bow.

The plastic corner stiffeners that Bestop includes help the rear corners keep their shape.

Once everything is in place, the header can be secured to the windshield with the hook levers. We struggled to get the hooks into the slot since the sun had come down a bit after our install. After struggling with it, we loosened the rear corners we had previously secured to reduce the tension and could then catch the header hook in the slot. Once installed, we haven’t had any issues with the front hook since the material had a chance to stretch out a bit.

The top installed without the windows in place.

The quick-release above the door surround makes going topless relatively straightforward.

The Supertop NX easily folds down when you want to go topless.

All of the windows are secured with heavy-duty zippers, but we like the extra security of having Velcro closures to help seal each window. It’s an extra piece of fit and finish that didn’t go unnoticed.

The “sun roof” option on the Supertop NX makes it easy to get some sun for the front seat without having to pull off the entire top. It’s a quick and easy process.

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.

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