I have a Bestop safari bikini top and the stock MOPAR (Bestop) sunrider soft top. My teenage son, with all of his wisdom, asked: "If all you want is a roof to protect you from the sun, why'd you buy a bikini top??? You just use the stock soft top without its windows and no doors. This way, if you HAVE to use or store the Jeep in the rain, you can just slap on the doors and soft top windows without the huge hassle of putting the soft top back on."
When I wheel with my Dad, I take the top and windows, just in case, (in his '70's). Otherwise, Spring through Fall, I just have the bikini on. When it wears out, I will get a Safari top, as it gives more protection from the sun (I am bald and fair-skinned). I figure, the less I use my top, the longer it will be before I have to replace it.
i agree w/ jjseel. the less you put the top up and down, the longer it will last. plus, imo, driving w/ the soft top up and windows out it still feels like the top is still on. with the bikini it gives you the top down feel w/ some sun protection.
I just dropped my safari top for a full soft top. I like being able to have multiple configurations with my Jeep. It's typically too cool for the mornings to drive into town to work but yet warm enough in the eve to take it all off or parts of it. Also when I'm trail riding, I can zip the TJ back up when it gets too hot or dusty.... just works for me (more so for the wife). My softop can always be replaced when it wears out..... I'd rather it wear out from use than sitting in a corner collecting dust. My hard top is saved for winters.
It is cheaper to replace a bikini or safari top than it is a soft top and or soft top frame. Here in flat Kansas, the places we go wheeling tend to have trees that like to reach out and grab your soft top.
Very much appreciate everyone's input! Any top - whether bikini or the full soft top - gives sun protection, SOME rain/storm protection, and, believe it or not, tree gunk - whether sap or otherwise protection. A major part of the Jeep's allure, IMO, is all of the options and configurations one has. Jgano23's comment seems to get closest to my "heart of the matter". Assume for this discussion - replacement cost of either is a non-factor - the question seems to boil down to this: does the bikini top provide enough "benefits" to justify the "cost" of not being able to zip on the windows and throw on the doors in a MOMENT's notice because of extreme weather (heat, cold, precipitation) or impromptu off-roading dirt and mud implications? (Another unmentioned bikini top benefit is that it is MUCH easier to take off the bikini and put it back on in the event you want the FULL open air affect.)
Jpauly, the kid is right... IMHO. I have a hardtop '03 and most of the time I have the bikini on her... but when weather hits I am slightly SOL. I also have an '00 with a soft top, and damned if it isn't more versatile. I love zipping out the winderz and having an "open" ride. I sit in the front left seat... whether it's a bikini or the open soft top I get the same amount of shade... but versitility to boot. Plus I can open it up all the way in a few minutes. I am considering getting a soft top for the '03 for Summer and just keep the hard top hanging in the garage.
As soon as the weather gets a bit warm, I run a safari top and don't put the hard top back on until the first snow fall. Then again, I've herculined and pulled the drain plugs on the jeep, so rain doesn't bother me.
" Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." Bukowski
I take my soft top off for the warm months here in VA (May-Sept) and run a safari top and tonneau cover all summer. I find the safari top a lot easier to put on and take off than the soft top on my '04 Unlimited. I do get a little water inside the cab when it rains hard but I make sure to flip the seats forward when I leave it for the night so my seat is dry in the morning. I also leave the floor drains open all the time. I figure I'm saving a lot of wear and tear on my soft top too so hopefully it will last me a few more years than it normally would - after all safari/bikini tops are a lot less expensive to replace! But in the end go with whatever makes you happy. The great thing about jeeps is no 2 are alike.