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Bicycle Race by Queen

Album: JazzReleased: 1978Charted:
24
11
  • Freddie Mercury wrote this in France after watching the Tour de France bicycle race ride by his hotel. The band were recording Jazz in the French countryside mainly as a tax break - Roger Taylor claimed in the Days of our Lives documentary that they were being taxed as much as 98% on royalties on previous albums, hence why they defected to France and later Montreux in Switzerland to record future albums.
  • This was released as a double A-side single with "Fat Bottomed Girls." They ran back to back on the album, and many radio stations played them together. The "Fat Bottomed Girls" are mentioned in this song's lyrics.
  • Wherever Queen played, bicycle shops sold out of bells bought by fans who brought them to the show to ring them during this song.
  • Queen staged a bicycle race around Wimbledon stadium in England to promote the single. 65 professional models were hired to race nude, with special effects hiding the nudity in the original video; a photo from the race was used on the cover of the single and images from the race were used for the video.

    Queen rented 65 bicycles for the race. When the company found out what they were used for, they refused to take the bikes back unless the band paid for new seats.

    The album contained a poster of the women in the bicycle race. It was left out of some copies for stores that did not want to carry it, but fans could mail order the poster if they desired. A bikini bottom was digitally added to the cover of the single, and on some US releases a bra was also added.
  • At a 1978 concert in Madison Square Garden, Queen re-created the video by having women with very little clothing ride bicycles around the stage.
  • Queen had a lot of success the year before with another double A-side, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions."
  • Be Your Own Pet covered this for the 2005 Queen tribute album Killer Queen. (thanks, Rachel - South Point, OH)
  • The song features surprisingly complex instrumentation, and the Jazz album as a whole perhaps represents the apex of Queen's experimentation. It features an imaginative solo played exclusively on bicycle bells, unusual chord progressions, shifts in time signature (from 4/4 to 6/8) and a whole host of pop culture references in the lyrics, including mentions of religion, the Watergate scandal, drugs, Jaws, Star Wars and Frankenstein.
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Comments: 47

It is said that Freddie wrote this song not only after seeing the Tour de France ride past his hotel, but specifically after he'd bedded one of the racers! Brian May was asked about this, but would neither confirm nor deny saying, "I'm not going to talk about who slept with who or where or when!"Cathy - Boston, Ma
The lyrics "borrow" their structure from The Beatles, Hello Goodbye.Hans - Cambridge, Ma
yeah i figured out this came after "Fat Bottomed Girls" becaus e in the slow part, it says:

"Bicycle Races are coming your way, (so forget all your duties, oh yeah...)
Fat bottomed Girls, they'll be riding today, (so look out for those beauties, ohh, yeah....)
(On Your Mark! Get Set! GO!)
(GUIATR SOLO)

P.S. When i first heard this, instead of "those beauties," i thought Mercury said "their b00bies." But then again, us boyz will be boyz....
Michael - Deridder, La
Mercury's lyrics do imply that you should pursue whatever gives you pleasure, regardless of how simplistic it may be. However, they also seem to take a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the USA by mocking our tendency to go 'gaga' (if I can use another lyric from a Queen song released some six years later) over the latest fads and trends of pop culture and our recent (at the time) political scandals.
I always thought it was clever how the band linked the second chorus and the bridge by sharing the lyric 'bicycle'. Also, Brian May's guitar work immediately following the cacophony of bicycle bells is very well done and can only be fully appreciated via headphone listening. (March 2011)
Jfv - Philadelphia, Pa
at 1:27 the line "Bicycle Race" sounds like "Buy Cigarettes" ?Irfan - Bekasi, Indonesia
is he talkin' about being Bi-Sexual???Vinyl - The City, Ny
"All the opposites"? Have you read the lyrics? There is exactly ONE pair of opposites mentioned together in their entirety! (Black/white, near the beginning)Matt - Wichita, Ks
this song is different. it is still an amazazing songAustn411 - Va. Beach, Va
I'm a very big Queen fan and I must say its the gayest and worst song Queen ever did....PERIODAdam - Boyce, Va
I always considered the Bicycle Race as a reference to an LSD trip or desire. After all, the LSD counterculture wanted to juxtapose itself anything considered mainstream, hence the comparisons of opposites, mention of dislikes of popular entertainment icons of the day, and a distaste for the Vietnam War and government.

The fact that Bicycle Day also refers to the original discovery of LSD, that a bike ride could certainly be metaphor for a "trip", and the tune itself seems playfully aloof, it all kinda makes sense.
Adam - Minneapolis, Mn
the harmonised arpeggios they sing at the very start are SO hard to get right.
they were better at the singing malarkey even than anyone gives them credit for (and the industry has pretty much copied the way they did it).
queen songs of old were like tech demos for how to record modern music and make it sound great.
therefore it's kind of their fault we have so much manufactured pap nowadays. :-)
Matt - All Over The Shop, --
why did they list all the opposites. does it have anything to do with cars vs. bicycles.Janet - Corning., Ca
To me this song is funny and reminds me of young men racing dangerouslly in cars,bikes,or motercycles.Michaela - Brooklyn, Ny
ang galing...Ched - - La Union, Philippines
This song was mentioned in James Patterson's "Big Bad Wolf" (pgs. 258-259). Alex Cross (main character) heard this song playing before entering the suspect's barn. Upon his entrance, the music stops and the plot thickens. Thanks goes to my wife who had just read those pages today and made note of it while I was listening to music on my computer. Coincidence? I think not! :)Kevin - Richland, Wa
*throws up on Owen*Matthew - Milford, Ma
This is one of those songs that just makes me happy.Heather - Point Pleasant, Wv
queen is the epitomy of rock. this is one of their greatest.

my interpretation was the bike riding was a metaphor. " i want to ride it where i like" was a statement of living life how you wanted. for freddie, it was not becoming obsessed with pop culture and doing his own thing.
Caitlin - Upper Township, Nj
For the record, riding a bike naked is one of the coolest things a human can experience, regardless of your gender, how many of you there are, or what kick-ass band is encouraging you to do it. Try it if you don't believe me. No, really. This is actually an international movement. Check out www.worldnakedbikeride.org and http://wiki.worldnakedbikeride.org for more info.Owen - Denver, Co
how did 65 women agree to ride bikes - naked? im wondering if there was a huge prize money or sumthing...or was it just for queen :)Chitra - Bangalore
well thats an unforgettable conceptual songSolfa - Tehran, Iran
Mel, I think you couldn't be further off. I see this song as liking the simple pleasures in life. He wasn't wanna be President, he doesn't wanna go to Vietnam, doesn't want to have anything to do with Watergate, doesn't believe in fairy tales, doesn't like popular culture, he just wants to do his own thing and enjoy the simple pleasures in life - bicycling!James - Vancouver, Canada
Dude this song pwns. Whoever dosent like any Queen song can suck my flip c0ckRein - Daly City, Ca
This is the most ridiculous, idiotic song ever. I hate it.Katykat - Wadsworth, Oh
Not worried about the possible intonations of a bicycle race. Coolest promotional stunt ever, 65 naked women in a bicycle race. The store refused to accept back the rented bikes after they learned what they had been used for, too.Jonathon - Clermont, Fl
i love this song but I am sad to report I have lost queens greatest hits one some where in my room i still have greatest hits 2 and 3 though and thank the lord where would the world be whith out queen.Tonya - Murry, Ky
I always felt as a modern person who has never watched Survior or seen the movie Titanic. That he was expressing the feelings of someone who does not watch what is currently "in," but does what they actually enjoy. I grew up in the 80's and never wore spandex or listen to disco. What can I say.Cyn - Fairfield, Ca
Is it merely coincidence that John Williams wrote the film scores for both Jaws and Star Wars? ("Jaws was never my scene and I don't like Star Wars")Donald - As, Ky
i believe it is quite obvious that when freddie sings "bi-cycle" what he wants to say is "bi-sexual." i think this whole song is about being able to express yourself openly no matter what your sexual orientation and that he doesnt want to play by the rules. i'm shocked i am the first to report this interpretation.Mel - Potomac, Md
Not one of my favs but i still love it because Freddie wrote it! :D That guy is a geniusAmy - Dallas, Tx
what the hell is this song about??Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
roger taylor sings that part in Lover Boy? thanks i was wondering! i love that song too. and this song...i keep forgetting this song...which i am listening to right now.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
if you have Grand theft auto san andreas and want a good laugh, hop on a bike and play this song while doing drive-bys.Josh - Sandy, Ut
YAY ALICIA!!!!!!!!!!Freddie - Orlando, Fl
lol, I especially love it when he says "you say coke, I say cain" lol, oh and when he says "HEY MAN!!, Jaws was never my scene and I don't like Star Wars!"Alicia - Tamaqua, Pa
I love Queen. Especially Freddie Mercury. One of my favorite songs are Don't Stop Me Now. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT...lol

Brian May is amazing on the guitar, really.
Alicia - Tamaqua, Pa
I am darling! stupid really, i thought the username was the pasword. (though Im sure many boyfans feel the same way as I do =p)Freddie - Orlando, Fl
I love the guitar bridge on this song. No one can play like Brian May. He and his dad made the electric guitar he plays. I haven't heard of any other artist who did that. That's just one thing that makes Queen unique.and wonderful.Jude - Thomasville, Ga
Keep rockin, sweetie pie! Lover Boy is a loveable song! Freddie is breathtaking and Brian is a sweetie.... check out mr Roger Meddows Taylor when you get the chance... quite the angel face. He sing the "hey boy whered ya get it from" bit in your favorite song.... and all the high bits in the frequent operatic parts of Queen songs.Freddie - Orlando, Fl
i love queen, im listein to them on my computer right now, good old fashioned lover boy, my fave song, i dont care if freddie's gay or anything, he is still the best singer to ever be born! and i love the guitarist too!Nattie - Churchville, Pa
Freddie's last progressive rock song. Jazz was sort of the last hurrah before disco and new wave trends roared in with the '80s. The original LPs included the fold-out poster of the female contestants of the bicycle race.Kent Lyle - Palo Alto, Ca
Has anyone seen the video, with all the pretty, naked chicks riding bikes? If not, you can download it here:

http://www.telepop.cl/Videos/Queen/Queen%20-%20bicycle%20race.mov
John - Indus Valley, India
I like it when Freddie sings "You say coke, I say caine".QUEEN ROCK FOREVER. :)Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
this song is so pointless but i love it! rock on queenShana - Pembroke, Canada
i love the bike bells in the middle of this songRory - Hopkins, Mn
did you guys see the documentry last nite? (20 april 2003 UK)
the picture used on the cover had 'panties' painted on to it to cover certain areas. also the video showed highly 'warped' views of the race. the only aspect of the event that was not cencored was a poster that was mainly only available on mail-order
Andy - Halifax, England
When the shop that had hired out the bicycles for the video heard that naked women had rode on them, they refused to take them back.Roddy - Southampton, England