Bicycle Race

Album: Jazz (1978)
Charted: 11 24


  • 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. Sixty-five 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. In a possibly apocryphal but often-repeated story, when the rental 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 added to cover the bum on 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.

Comments: 50

  • Jim Michaels from UsaThe Bikini was certainly NOT digitally added in 1978 (as stated in this piece), In 1978 it would have been done using a manual graphic process. Photoshop was over 10 years in the future at the time. [True that. Made the clarification. -editor]
  • Y’all Y’all it’s just a song about him being bi. That’s it. That’s legit the whole point.
  • Steve_hates_you from GreeceI think they used the term "bicycle" to describe people who are negative and just dislike things that the majority loves and they used Star Wars as an example: ''I don't like Star Wars.'' I guess this song is referring to people who nowadays we call hipsters? That's my theory on it.
  • Cathy from Boston, MaIt 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!"
  • Hans from Cambridge, MaThe lyrics "borrow" their structure from The Beatles, Hello Goodbye.
  • Michael from Deridder, Layeah 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!)

    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....
  • Jfv from Philadelphia, PaMercury'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)
  • Irfan from Bekasi, Indonesiaat 1:27 the line "Bicycle Race" sounds like "Buy Cigarettes" ?
  • Vinyl from The City, Nyis he talkin' about being Bi-Sexual???
  • Matt from Wichita, Ks"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)
  • Austn411 from Va. Beach, Vathis song is different. it is still an amazazing song
  • Adam from Boyce, VaI'm a very big Queen fan and I must say its the gayest and worst song Queen ever did....PERIOD
  • Adam from Minneapolis, MnI 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.
  • Matt from All Over The Shop, --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. :-)
  • Janet from Corning., Cawhy did they list all the opposites. does it have anything to do with cars vs. bicycles.
  • Michaela from Brooklyn, NyTo me this song is funny and reminds me of young men racing dangerouslly in cars,bikes,or motercycles.
  • Ched - from La Union, Philippinesang galing...
  • Kevin from Richland, WaThis 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! :)
  • Matthew from Milford, Ma*throws up on Owen*
  • Heather from Point Pleasant, WvThis is one of those songs that just makes me happy.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, Njqueen 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.
  • Owen from Denver, CoFor 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 and for more info.
  • Chitra from Bangalorehow 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 :)
  • Solfa from Tehran, Iranwell thats an unforgettable conceptual song
  • James from Vancouver, CanadaMel, 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!
  • Rein from Daly City, CaDude this song pwns. Whoever dosent like any Queen song can suck my flip c0ck
  • Katykat from Wadsworth, OhThis is the most ridiculous, idiotic song ever. I hate it.
  • Jonathon from Clermont, FlNot 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.
  • Tonya from Murry, Kyi 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.
  • Cyn from Fairfield, CaI 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.
  • Donald from As, KyIs 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")
  • Mel from Potomac, Mdi 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.
  • Amy from Dallas, TxNot one of my favs but i still love it because Freddie wrote it! :D That guy is a genius
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cawhat the hell is this song about??
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Caroger 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.
  • Josh from Sandy, Utif you have Grand theft auto san andreas and want a good laugh, hop on a bike and play this song while doing drive-bys.
  • Freddie from Orlando, FlYAY ALICIA!!!!!!!!!!
  • Alicia from Tamaqua, Palol, 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 from Tamaqua, PaI love Queen. Especially Freddie Mercury. One of my favorite songs are Don't Stop Me Now. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE

    Brian May is amazing on the guitar, really.
  • Freddie from Orlando, FlI am darling! stupid really, i thought the username was the pasword. (though Im sure many boyfans feel the same way as I do =p)
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaI 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.
  • Freddie from Orlando, FlKeep 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.
  • Nattie from Churchville, Pai 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!
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaFreddie'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.
  • John from Indus Valley, IndiaHas anyone seen the video, with all the pretty, naked chicks riding bikes? If not, you can download it here:
  • Scott Baldwin from Edmonton, CanadaI like it when Freddie sings "You say coke, I say caine".QUEEN ROCK FOREVER. :)
  • Shana from Pembroke, Canadathis song is so pointless but i love it! rock on queen
  • Rory from Hopkins, Mni love the bike bells in the middle of this song
  • Andy from Halifax, Englanddid 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
  • Roddy from Southampton, EnglandWhen 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.
see more comments

Matt SorumSongwriter Interviews

When he joined Guns N' Roses in 1990, Matt helped them craft an orchestral sound; his mezzo fortes and pianissimos are all over "November Rain."

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song TitlesMusic Quiz

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have some rather unusual song titles - see if you can spot the real ones.

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.