Why Do I Need A Windshield Channel?
With the introduction of the 1997 model, Jeep greatly improved the fit, seal and durability of the Wrangler soft top and its hardware. One major change was in the way the soft top connected and sealed to the top of the windshield frame. In prior years, the front edge of the soft top simply “tucked" into a channel which was permanently attached to the top of the windshield frame. Once tucked in, the seal was generally good. Getting it tucked in however, was not always easy and sometimes took two people.
Since 1997, Jeep Wrangler soft tops have used a header bar system. The front edge of the soft top fabric is permanently attached to the header bar. Once the soft top is fully raised, latches secure the header bar to the windshield frame.
Easy Windshield Installation
Jeep Bikini tops do not use hardware; they simply attach to the windshield frame and roll bars. Since there is not a “channel" on the windshield frame, one must be installed in order to use a Jeep Bikini top. On 1997+ Jeep Wranglers, a Header style Bikini with the no-drill windshield channel is the best combination. The no-drill windshield channel simply bolts in where the factory soft top latches in above the visors. It is easily removed and the factory soft top (or hard top) can go back on without any other modifications. This is the same windshield channel that Bestop uses in their Supertop.
Drill-On Windshield Channels
For 1997-2002 Jeep Wranglers, Bestop does offer a strapless Bikini Top which uses a drill-in style windshield channel. If the factory soft top, hard top, or even a Supertop is to be later used, the windshield channel will have to be removed from the windshield frame leaving holes where it was attached. This setup is only recommended for vehicles which will not be replacing the Bikini Top with another top, at least not too often.
Old School Windshield Channels
On older (up to 1995) Jeep Wranglers and CJ’s, both factory and aftermarket soft tops use the drill-in style windshield channels. A new windshield channel is only required when installing a Jeep Bikini Top on a vehicle originally equipped with a hard top, or if the original was lost or destroyed.
As with any good products that are industry leaders there is always a need for improvement, on new products as well as the older ones.