Each skateboard wheel is mounted on its axle via two bearings. With few exceptions, the bearings are the industrial standard "608" size, with a bore of 8 mm (or 10mm depending on the axle), an outer diameter of 22 mm, and a width of 7 mm. These are usually made of steel, though silicon nitride, a high-tech ceramic, is sometimes used. Many skateboard bearings are graded according to the ABEC scale. The scale starts with ABEC1 as the lowest, followed by 3, 5, 7, and 9. It is a common misconception that the higher ABECs are better for skateboarding, as the ABEC rating only measures tolerances, which do not necessarily apply to skateboards. Bearing performance is determined by how well maintained the bearings are. Maintenance on bearings includes periodically cleaning and lubricating them . Bearings that are kept unmaintained have their performance greatly lowered and will soon need to be replaced. Bearing cleaning kits are commonly available on the market. The ABEC rating does not determine the speed or durability of a skateboard bearing. In particular, the ABEC rating says nothing about how well a bearing handles axial (side-to-side) loads, which are severe in most skateboard applications. Many companies do not show the ABEC rating, such as Bones Bearings, which makes bearings specifically for skateboarding, often marketed as "Skate Rated". Each bearing usually contains 7 steel or ceramic bearing balls, although other configurations are used as well.
The type of skating the rider wants to do will inform the board choice, which sometimes involves skating a non-popsicle shaped board. But if you are just starting out, you can simply start with the traditional popsicle shaped deck that you probably recognize. As you skate more and get to know what shapes you like or what kind of skateboarding you enjoy best, your decisions will take into account for company, shape, width, and style of riding. Until then, choosing a board by its graphic is totally acceptable. For an overview on types of skateboard decks and riding styles, check out our Skateboard Decks Section in our Buyer’s Guide. Once you find a deck you like, you can simply select the default wheels, trucks, bearings and grip tape or you have the option to make it a complete.
I found that my problem was unclear instruction about the timing between jumping and popping. One day when I was watching a slowmo ollie video though, I noticed that the skateboarder already was beginning to jump (at least his body was already going in an upward motion) before snapping the board off the ground. That was a critical change I needed to make in order to get it working. I had been trying to pop the board while all my weight was still pushing down on it (kind of an obvious mistake, but I somehow overlooked this). Hope this helps somebody.