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Laugh-In Tricycle GuyArte Johnson's Tricycle - On the comedy variety program ROWAN & MARTIN PRESENTS LAUGH-IN/NBC1968-72 comedian Arte Johnson made bicycle riding history when he created the famous "adult on tricycle" skit. Dressed in a yellow raincoat, Arte Johnson's adult body precariously balanced itself on a child's tricycle. Furiously pedaling the trike, Arte suddenly came to a dead-stop, slowly tipped over and then lay silent on the ground, hands still gripping the tiny handle bars and feet still on the pedals. The skit spawned the phrase "pulling an Arte Johnson" that referred to someone who falls off his bicycle. And thirty years later, the skit is still popular and on the minds of Tom and Ray Magliozzi (a.k.a. "Click and Clack" on the PBS radio program CAR TALK. In May 1999, they referenced Arte Johnson's bike skit in one of their columns ( that discussed speedometers and drive shaft speed correlations:


"To understand it better, think back to Arte Johnson of television's "Laugh- In," the guy who used to ride the little kid's tricycle across the stage. The equivalent of "drive shaft speed" is how fast Arte's feet are pedaling. So if his legs are turning 50 revolutions a minute, in one minute he can make it roughly across the stage at the NBC studios in "beautiful downtown Burbank."


But if he were on one of those old-fashioned tricycles with the HUGE front wheels, and his legs (i.e., drive shafts) were still turning 50 times a minute, he'd be out the door and halfway across the parking lot in a minute -- which means he'd be traveling a lot faster explained ...Now that's an extreme example. Plus, Arte's getting older now, and he probably doesn't get on a tricycle very often. But based on normal variations in available passenger car tires, your speedometer can be as much as 5 percent to 10 percent off for this reason.

© 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

TRIVIA NOTE: Dan Price, a 45-year-old Oregon man pedaled 4,250-mile cross-country on a tricycle trip to draw people's attention to the benefits of pedal power and gas-free travel. Riding an average of 50 to 60 miles per day on the 33-pound, 27-speed tricycle, Price pedaled from Oregon to San Diego, across Texas and through New Orleans, then through western Florida. He began his trip from his hometown of Joseph, Ore., on Nov. 1. 2002 and finished in Key West, Florida on February 14, 2003. Arte Johnson would be proud.

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