I just bought a 2001 Sahara with a hard top. I want to get a soft top for it but I am totally confused. I would like to get a factory soft top but they are too expensive. What is the closest to a factory soft top in quality to buy?
I believe Bestop makes the factory tops... I've had my eye on the ones over at quadratec.com but shop around and you may find a better price. If you don't have the hardware installed for a soft top, unfortunately you're gonna have to pay quite a bit for a soft top since you'll need to get the hardware.
Also, if you want the ride to be fairly quiet, I hear the sailcloth material tops are MUCH quieter than the standard tops.
I'd say BestTop is your best value,I beat the crap out of mine,Its 7 years old,I hit 6" trees with the middle of my windsheild frame in 4L,The trees slowly dent the frame,drag over the Best Top,no rips yet,some minor wear from it though
The factory OEM frame is the best. Bestop makes the OEM frame and fabric but Bestop does not sell the frame. They have their Supertop frame but it is difficult to use. The best ting you can do it to find a used OEM top. They are around. There are several Jeep web forums so keep on the for sale sections. Craigslist and ebay are others. A good condition top and frame will be 400 +/- There are other parts required door surround, tailgate bar, clips for the bar and roll bar barackets. These may or may not be included with the used top. If not, thoseparts can add up to a couple hundred. Any 97-06 top will fit. 01+ top are more desireable. They are the sailcloth indicated above.
you really can't beat a bestop soft top, imo. but if price is a major issue and you can't fine one on craigslist or ebay, i would look into pavement ends. i am fairly certain that pavement ends is bestop's sister company of imported tops. i am not 100% sure of that but you can pm geoff@bestop. he can answer any of those questions.
Stillwater: The closest to factory is the Bestop Supertop. Bestop does make the factory OE tops for Chrysler, and the differences between factory and aftermarket are pretty small. It's not cheap, but most people seem to decide that the difference in price between an inexpensive top and Bestop is not that huge.
Pavement Ends is a subsidiary of Bestop. They use the same technology, same design, etc. The fabric is a bit lighter, the windows are a bit thinner, and you can't get replacement parts. But it is a good product and worth looking at.
There are other brands out there, but the good ones are all expensive.
Otherwise, all the advice above sounds pretty reasonable to me, but Neil may be splitting hairs a bit: the Supertop hardware isn't THAT complicated to use. It's what all of us with older Jeeps are using now. I absolutely agree with Neil that buying used is a viable alternative, but to be careful and get all the bits and pieces. We sell replacement parts but they ain't cheap.
My two cents: Wife bought new a 94 YJ 4.0L Wrangler 5spd, took it to Panama for 2 yrs, then moved to San Diego, CA, in 96, had a Bestop installed (said old top was a pain in the butt) and also purchased slider windows. Now in 2012 the seams are starting to come apart on the top (but you say its only 16 year old top) I would say thats pretty damned good for a vehicle that was never stored inside.
I need to replace top, hardware is not the easiest to raise and lower, and back gate has interference with back window. What are my options to replace with simpler hardware?
Bestop has hardware that allows top to fold back above front seats, looks cool but is it easy to release? Do the clamps/clips for the A post (Windshield) mount to the YJ? Does the new hardware allow the top to be lowered and raised easily?
softtopper.com I love mine. Same situation hard top only no soft top parts. This kit came complete. Door channels, windshield channel and tail bar. Goes on in minutes and all fits great. The price was great and shipped in no time.
Not to muddy the waters---had you considered one of the Frameless tops? From what I hear -----again----Bestop's is the best......it might save on hardware??? IDK justwondering---also I just like that look better...a few less parts to break/ wear out also.
I have a Best Top for my YJ - It's great and very durable. However, for my LJ, I'm really considering the Rampage frameless. I don't have one, but I've read some really good reviews on this forum and others as well.
Not sure if it's something you would consider but I just recently purchased a Rampage Frameless top for under $350 on Amazon. If you do look into that, you'd need door surrounds, tailgate bar, and windshield header. I'm pretty sure you can get them in a bundle if you look around. Good luck.
14 Anvil Jeep Wrangler JKU, 2.5" RK Max Travel Kit, Bilstein 5100 Shocks, GY Duratrac 315/70/17, Level 8 Alloy Wheels, Poison Spyder Brawler Lite Front Bumper and Rear RockBrawler bumper, Dynomax Exhaust, 10th Anniversary Rubicon Hood