OK, so maybe by this point, the Bestop Sunrider Supertop for the TJ isn't fresh news. But we happened to have a well-aged example sitting around on the Jp Magazine shelf and also happened to have a TJ with an old, decrepit top with zippers that get stuck by just mentioning the word "open."
Going into this, we had some misgivings-in the past, we've had problems with Bestop Supertops on YJs and CJs. Heck, we live in fear of that little tab that keeps the tension on the top and were dreading the reappearance here. Also, in 2001, the Wrangler came with a Sailcloth top, but if you want a Bestop Sunrider style top for a Jeep made before 2003, there is no Sailcloth option. We all know how much quieter the Sailcloth supposedly is than the regular tops, so we were worried about the noise that would follow the swap because our stereo can barely keep up with the Sailcloth top.
Our '01 TJ, Red, finally got its topectomy, and we decided we'd share some of our observations along the way.
The Pleasant Surprise
We all know that Sailcloth is supposed to be way quieter than the regular Haartz top material, right? Wrong!
We went all geeky with this part. We took a limited-production phone with GPS mapping software on it, a new Bluetooth GPS receiver, and a decibel meter to see if the Sailcloth really was quieter.
The GPS gave us our speed, the cruise control in the Jeep maintained it, and all the while we shot video of the dB meter, because we needed to watch the road, not the meter.
The results surprised us. With the windows up, covering the same route at roughly the same time of night in the same weather conditions, we ended up with 85 dB at 70 mph before and after the top swap. To see the videos, go to www.jpmagazine.com.