I've got a 2004 Rubicon with a stock soft top. Love the jeep, but hate the soft top. I've been "fighting" with the soft top ever since I got the jeep, and in my opinion the Jeep soft top is a really poor piece of engineering. It's such a pain in the ass to get on and off, that I've pretty much given up.
I'm looking for an non-stock alternative that will allow me to have a soft top that's useable. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
By far (!!!), the TJ's OE soft top is the best top out there. The others are like putting together an Erector Set and their fabrics are so thin that they pop and make noise. Any top design has to work around a shape and rollbars that doesn't make any easy design top possible. If you had been around Jeeps long, you would have realized that the current tops are head and shoulders around how bad they used to be.
If you want an easy up/down top, you're going to have start looking for a car.
__________________ When you have a choice, buy American.
I would guess that there is either some kind of defect in the hardware or some kind of user error if it is that hard. This is my first summer of being a TJ owner and I can take the top on and off in less than 5 minutes by my self.....
I'm with the rest of the posters here.... what is it doing? We need a description of the problem.
Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
At first when I bought my 06 TJ I would struggle with it but it no time with some experience and tips from other jeep owners I can have it up and down in no time at all. One thing I learned that helped a lot was when removing the flaps that cover the rear roll bars is flip them into the top and it saves room in the trunk area. Sorry if that wasnt the correct description I dont know the real name for them.
06 Wrangler TJ X
33/12.5/15 BFG M/T's on Crager soft 8's
3.25" Rough Country Lift
Rampage Tubular Side Steps
Custom Fab Front Bumper
6.5" Polk Audio DXI 650 in soundbar
I have and after market best top on my 02 TJ and it is very simple. I have never messed with putting them on or off, but I work on cars everyday, and it was simple enough to learn. I would guess something is catching somewhere or something.
I don't think you'll find an aftermarket top that beats the original equipment top.
There are some alternatives you can look into - the Trektop (also from Bestop) is simpler, with no bows. But not really easier to put on and off. That top has some competition from other companies too.
Bestop has looked into electric tops, especially as the JK gets more SUV like (don't yell at me, you know it's true!). But they're complicated and very expensive. Like Jerry points out, Jeeps are tough shapes to work with.
I was thinking that the ugly car below might be the closest to a automotive-type top that a JK would have, except even this one doesn't go straight up in the back, and it then doesn't try to span four doors that are totally straight on the top. In other words, with a Jeep, you can't just run a cable that pulls the top up in one motion. It needs to go straight up, then straight forward for a long ways.
(I'm not saying this looks like a Jeep, I'm just saying the shape of the top is kind of close, compared to most convertibles).
Im pretty sure that year had sailcloth tops from the factory, if that's the case, you've got the best one out there. It just takes some getting used to. My top installation used to be a pain too, but keep at it, you will learn tricks and get faster as you go. I can do mine in under 45 seconds now, including the upper door halves.