Project Sgt. Rocker Dons Campaign Cover With Bestop Twill Trektop NX

Our 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU “Project Sgt. Rocker” is really beginning to get in shape, with great looking graphics and its first performance upgrade, but with a moniker like “Sarge,” it needed something more than the stock hardtop. We wanted a soft top with lots of bells and whistles, and something befitting a vehicle of commanding stature. We looked in every catalog and brick-and-mortar, and finally settled upon the Black Twill Trektop NX from Bestop.

The sharp-looking cover was the perfect solution. It’s sharp-looking, will lend Sarge a commanding presence, plus is durable and rugged. Steve Brown of Bestop told us, “The Bestop Black Twill Trektop NX is a triple-layer construction consisting of acrylic/polyester fabric laminated with a butyl rubber layer on to a textured polycotton base liner.”

Sarge looked rather naked without a cap, but the factory hardtop had to removed before we could begin installation of the Bestop Black Twill Trektop NX.

One of our favorite aspects of the Trektop NX, and huge selling point, is the flip-back Sunrider sunroof panel. The D.O.T.-approved windows are also replaceable–a big plus–and made of 40-mil polyvinyl featuring a 31 percent tint. Another really nice feature too, as Steve Brown of Bestop remind us, “The Trektop requires just three hand tools to install.”

The Bestop Black Twill Trektop NX soft top is currently available for the 1997 to 2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ and 2007 to 2014 Jeep Wrangler JK and JKU. The kit came complete with an integrated windshield header assembly, factory-style door surrounds, top-arch bars, a rear cross bow, and a tailgate bar. We found the installation instructions to be well illustrated and easy to follow.

After removing the hardtop from the Wrangler, we moved to the rear lateral crossbar of the stock roll cage and began the installation of the Beststop Trektop NK Twill softop.

Getting Busy

The first step was to unzip the padded coverings surrounding the T-junctions at the rear crossbar to allow for the removal and eventual re-installation of the 13mm bolts at the forward edges of the brackets that connect the crossbar to the rear cage arches. This will allow the left (484.99) and right (48.98) cable brackets to be mounted pointing forward in this location.

Tools Needed

  • Ratchet with 13mm socket
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Utility knife

Prior to mounting the cable brackets, small, quarter-inch long slits must be cut in the padded covering using a box-cutter or X-Acto knife to allow the small flange of the cable bracket with the bolt mounting hole to be inserted through the covering.

The 13mm bolts on the trailing edges of those same T-brackets were removed and then re-installed to make way for the installation of the left (484.87) and right (484.86) rear bow brackets.

The Trektop offers enhanced UV and mildew protection. – Steve Brown, Bestop.

Another set of small slits must be made in the padded covering to allow U-shaped hooks of the rear bow brackets to protrude up and out through the padding when the padding is closed over them. Once the cable brackets and rear bow brackets were securely installed, and the two slices in the proper locations made, the covering was zipped back up.

Next we moved on to the right (486.66) and (486.67) left rear door surrounds that will eventually hold the edges of the Trektop down. These are first simply located and attached by centering a small post in each of the L-shaped door surrounds into a hole along the top of the body panels adjacent to the rear door frames.

Small slices were made in the padded covering for installation of the cable bracket flanges and rear bow brackets (top left). The front bolts used for the Jeep's rear crossbar brackets were used for installation of the cable brackets (top right). The rear bolts of the Jeep's rear crossbar brackets were used to mount the rear bow brackets (lower right). This is how it should appear once the cable brackets and rear bow brackets are mounted and the padding is zipped back up (lower right).

Then the Bestop-kit-supplied M8x78mm knobs (478.90) are inserted through tabs located near the corners of each rear door surround and into a threaded hole along the top of the vehicle to further secure the rear door surrounds to the Jeep. The right (497.86) and left (479.87) front door surrounds, are then fitted into place along the top rails of the Jeep and attached using another set of M8x78mm knobs (478.90).

Three tools and you’re done. – Steve Brown, Bestop.

The small metal Sunrider brackets act as mounts and swivel points for the side bows of the flip-back Sunrider section of the Trektop NX. These Sunrider brackets also do double-duty to overlap and help secure the abutting ends of the front and rear door surrounds.

The right (485.50) and left (485.51) Sunrider brackets are properly located by placing the oval cutout of the metal bracket over the oval-shaped raised hole on the trailing end of the front door surrounds. More M8x78mm knobs are then threaded though these holes and used to attach the Sunrider brackets with the tabs toward the rear.

Support Beams

Next, the first of the aluminum crossbraces that will act to help keep the Bestop Trektop NX taut and properly shaped was attached. One side of the front top arch (483.24) should be inserted first, and this is easily done by placing the tab at the end of the crossbar into the slot approximately half-way along the length of the front door surround.

The other side of the crossbar (Front Top Arch) will need to be placed under a bit of tension with a slight hand pressure in order to flex it enough to place the tab at the end of crossbar into the slot in the opposing front door surround. Once that is done, peel off the protective plastic sheeting on top of the Front Top Arch. Repeat these steps for the Rear Top Arch (483.27) that is located near the top center of the Jeep’s rear door.

The rear door surrounds (left) and front door surrounds (center) were installed using threaded knobs supplied in the kit. The front and rear top arch bars were then installed into slots in the front and rear door surrounds (right).

You’ll find two tailgate bar mounts, right (488.46) and left (488.47), in the kit. These secure the tail end of the Bestop Trektop and the tailgate bar to the back corners of the Jeep. The leading underside edge of the bar mount hooks under the existing metal rail on the Jeep, then pull back on the bar mount and the trailing underside edge of the bar mount hook will clip under the rail securely. No mounting hardware is needed.

The tailgate bar mounts were the final piece of the Bestop Trektop mounting fixtures. Now we were ready to move on to working on the actual top. With the top laying upside down upon clean paper on the floor in our our shop, we loosened and removed the two #8×1/2-inch Phillips head screws (393.79) from the each side of the integrated windshield header assembly that secures Trektop material to the bar.

The side bows are inserted into the ends of the integrated windshield header assembly and fastened using two #8×1/2-inch screws on the top side (top left) as well as four #8×1/2-inch screws on the bottom side (top right). Foam strips are used to in two locations on both sides afterwards to cover the screw heads and to seal the edges (lower photo).

This integrated windshield header assembly features two levers that clip into the top of the Jeep’s window frame. When closed, these levers lock the leading edge of the Trektop NX Twill top securely into place along the top of the windshield.

Sunny Side Up

We then inserted the ends of the side bows (485.47; one per side) with the pre-drilled holes for the screws into the holes at the trailing ends of the sides of the integrated windshield header assembly, and carefully made sure that the knobs on the opposite ends of the side bows were facing inward toward the center of the Trektop.

The screws were reinserted and the side bows securely attached. Then the metal tab that secures the Trektop material to the underside of the integrated windshield header assembly was also re-installed using the same two screws that were removed. Then the assembly was turned over to reveal two more holes on each end of its other side for two more #8×1/2-inch screws. The second set of two screws were then inserted into the side bows.

The last thing done to prepare the windshield header assembly was to attach two foam strips on each end; one small strip (417.43) close to the leading edge, and the larger of the two, right (457.76) and left (457.77), covering up the heads of the Phillips screws to avoid any abrasion during later use of the Trektop NK Twill top.

The windshield header assembly was attached to the windshield (right) of the Jeep. With the Trektop spread out loosely upside down over the hood, the knob ends of the side bows were lined up with the previously installed Sunrider brackets (right).

Now the windshield header assembly was attached to the windshield and soft top spread out loosely upside down across the front portion of the Jeep so that the knob ends of the side bows can be lined up with the Sunrider brackets (previously installed). The knobs on the side bows were then simply pulled out enough so that the pins inside could go through the holes in the tabs that stick up from the Sunrider Brackets. The side bows will pivot on these pins.

Then the round rod-like middle bow (486.21) is installed in a sleeve that’s about halfway  along the length of the flat roof section of the Trektop NX Twill softop. This sleeve features two straps with buckles that will be used in the next step to help keep the top taut after final assembly. The bow clip (479.22) is placed over the center of the sleeve and middle bow to retain the middle bow’s position in the sleeve.

The round rod-like middle bow was installed and then secured using a C-shaped clip (left). The middle bow sleeve features two adjustable straps with snaps that were hooked to the underside of the Jeep's middle crossbar (right) to help keep the center section of the Trektop taut once it's fully installed.

Once this step is accomplished, the top can be pulled back far enough to engage the ends of the Middle Bow into its slots in each side of the Jeep’s roof rails just a few inches behind the Sunrider brackets. With the middle bow set, the two web straps with snap hooks (460.37, one per side) can be looped through the two buckles that dangle from the bow clip sleeve we just mentioned in the previous step.

Those web straps now attached to the buckles on the bow clip sleeve are then slung under the large mid-lateral roll bar of the Jeep and the clips are attached to holes deep inside the roll bar. The buckles are used to tighten these two straps to put tension on the sleeve, middle bow, and thus, help keep taut the mid-section of the Trektop NX Twill softop.

The installation of the rectangular-shaped rear bow (484.18) is next. It runs laterally along the edge of the Trektop’s rear at the point where its fastback design angles downward along the rear roll bars. The rear bow brackets have already been installed, so the rear bow is simply slid into it’s corresponding sleeve in the Trektop and under the bracket.

Then a fabric tab with a plastic clip at each end of the sleeve is pulled over the top of the bracket so that the plastic clip can be hooked over the lip of the open end of the bow to keep it securely in place under bracket.

With the middle bow in its sleeve, the top can be pulled back far enough to place the rear bow into it's previously installed brackets (left). The cable springs were installed in the cable brackets (right) next. The cables run forward to the windshield, and under tension from the springs, help keep the outer edges of the top tight and tucked down.

The cable springs were then secured to their brackets. The cable springs help keep the cables that are threaded inside the top outer edges of each side of the Trektop from the springs forward all the way to integrated windshield header assembly tight. This cable in turn helps keep the outer side edges of the soft top tight and tucked down into the door surrounds.  

The hooked ends of the cable springs were attached to one of the three holes (we chose the center of the three holes) in the brackets and the springs tucked under the bracket housings to keep them from snagging anything during operation.

The upper edge of the rear window is attached to the rear bow and slowly slid into place. Zippers along both sides of the rear window zip to side window panels.

The cables that come out of the springs were then strung forward through the bracket housings and looped underneath the nailhead-shaped posts on the sides of the door surrounds. The Sunrider section of the Trektop was then closed and the header latches secured to the top of the windshield, closing up the upper section of the softop.

Rear View

The rear window was installed, first by slowly guiding the top weather-tight hooked seal of the rear window along the full width of the matching weather-tight rear hooked seal of the rear bar. But before finishing the installation of the rear window, the side windows were installed, and this was done bit by bit, starting with zipping up a couple of inches of the upper corners first, then tucking in the leading edge of the weather-proof stripping into the gutters of the rear door frames.

The side windows were draped on at first, then inch-by-inch a bit from their tops (right) were zipped with the rear window, and a bit along their leading edges (left) were tucked into the rear door frames, until they were completely attached.

The final major piece of the installation was the aluminum tailgate bar. It spans the width of the Jeep’s rear body, and each end of the bar snaps into place into the tailgate bar mounts. The bottom edge of the rear window has a long bead that slides snugly into a C-shaped channel in the tailgate bar. Two plastic tabs at the lower corners of the rear window also tuck underneath the tailgate bar mounts, further securing the rear window.

With the bottom of the rear window secured, the sides zipped down and closed up tightly, the large fabric flaps and hook-and-loop closures were used to sealed the Jeep’s interior from weather and dust. The job took just a couple of hours, and as Brown said, “Three tools and you’re done.” That wrapped up the installation of the Bestop Black Twill Trektop NX. We stood back and took a look at the transformation the Trektop had over Sarge, and realized that he was an entirely new man.

The last piece of the puzzle was the aluminum tailgate bar that spans the width of the Jeep’s tailgate, snaps snugly into the tailgate bar mounts, and secures the bottom of the Trektop’s rear window.

Put To The Test

Not only had the installation of the Bestop Black Twill Trektop NK give Project Sgt. Rocker a trim and fit new style that almost looked like a “crew cut” as opposed to the factory hardtop that in someways resembled a “mullet,” but the Trektop delivered in so many other ways. A super-duty top, the tri-ply laminated fabric has a nominal weight of 30 ounces per square yard. In addition to it’s durable construction, “It offers enhanced UV and mildew protection,” said Brown.

Not long after receiving the new cap, Sarge took us on it’s first long-range deployment–the 2014 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The drive from southern California as well as time spent on the slick rock trails in the red rock four-wheeling haven was a real test of the Bestop Black Twill Trektop NK.

With a clean cut look, the Bestop Black Twill Trektop NK added just the right style we were looking to give our Project Sgt. Rocker 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU.

We were not disappointed. During during the long drives to and from our destination, we experienced almost no wind noise at all at highway speeds. There was no flapping and snapping about of loose fabric, thanks, we’re sure, to the tight fit, tensioning bows and springs/wires of the Trektop’s design.

The Trektop can be cleaned with soap, warm water and a soft bristle brush; although Bestop warns against using anything but a water-soaked cloth or sponge and mild dishwashing liquid on the windows. We noticed that the top was unusually clean after two days on red rock dirt trails. It seems as if dirt doesn’t cling to the fabric much, making it all that easier to clean, another big plus in our book.

So let’s go through the check list on Project Sgt. Rocker’s new Bestop Black Twill Trektop NX. A couple of hours to install, with well-illustrated instructions. Superb fit and finish. Top-notch materials. Easy to operate sunroof. Removable tinted windows. Sharp looks. What’s not to like?

Like the way Sarge looks here as he took command of Moab? Well then, stay tuned to Off Road Xtreme to see upcoming installments of Project Sgt. Rocker!

About the author

Stuart Bourdon

A passion for anything automotive (especially off-road vehicles), camping, and photography led to a life exploring the mountains and deserts of the Southwest and Baja, and a career in automotive, outdoor, and RV journalism.
Read My Articles

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