Queen’s “Bicycle Race” Lyrics Meaning
Queen’s iconic song “Bicycle Race” was written and recited by music legend Freddie Mercury. He was inspired to do so after perusing the Tour de France, a famous bicycle race, outside of a hotel room he was renting in said country. And whereas the word “bicycle” is indeed one of the most-mentioned terms in this track, it really has nothing to do with bikes at all.
Rather, the titular “bicycle race” is symbolic of the singer’s desire to be free. Or when he states that he wants to ‘ride his bicycle’, which can be considered the thesis statement of this track, such alludes to the narrator being liberated to live life as he chooses. And as we all know, Freddie Mercury was very much bisexual. So one of the common interpretations of this song is that it is based on his desire to be so without judgment or persecution. And in that regard it should also be noted that for the most part Mercury did in fact keep his homosexuality concealed, as in never forthrightly declaring himself gay, during his lifetime.
So the first verses of this song center on the singer and addressee not seeing eye-to-eye. And the singer uses a bunch of pop-culture references to get this point across. But the whole intention is apparently to point out that people have different worldviews. And as such, leading back to the main point of the song, the narrator should not be prohibited from living life the way he prefers.
So conclusively, we can say that “Bicycle Race” is an ode to the concept of uninhibited personal freedom. And considering that its reciter was a homosexual who lived at a time when such a practice was frowned upon more than it has been in later years, it is commonly considered that the individual liberty he is speaking to specifically is lack of stigmatization of his sexual preferences. Indeed you will notice that one thing the words “bicycle” and bisexual have in common is the prefix “bi”.
But where the heck did “Fat Bottomed Girls” come from?
One aspect of this track which apparently doesn’t fit that narrative at all is the singers reference to “fat bottomed girls” in the bridge. This shoutout is conducted to promote the song which Queen released concurrently which “Bicycle Race”, which is actually entitled “Fat Bottomed Girls”.
And just as “Bicycle Race” gives a shoutout to “Fat Bottomed Girls”, the latter track also instructs the titular ladies to “get on your bikes and ride!”
Bizarre Promotion of “Bicycle Race”
Queen famously promoted this song (and the album it was featured on) by having 65 nude professional models actually conduct a bicycle race in Wimbledon Stadium. The bizarre even took place in the band’s hometown of London, on 17 September 1978. This event also served as the track’s official music video.
In fact the cover art from the single depicts one of these models on a bicycle. And since said lady is in fact unclothed, digitally-altered covers for the single had to be issued in some localities.
This lady also happens to be a “fat-bottomed girl”, which is actually the name of the track that served as the double A-side with “Bicycle Race”.
Moreover the album this song is featured on, “Jazz”, included a fold-out poster of said cyclists. This of course was not included in the American release of the song.
The bicycles used in the event mentioned above were rented. And according to reports, the rental company demanded the band pay for them all to be re-seated after discovering how the vehicles were actually utilized.
Release Date of “Bicycle Race”
“Bicycle Race” (along with “Fat Bottomed Girl”) was the lead single from Queen’s seventh album titled “Jazz”. It was released by EMI Records and Elektra Records on 13 October 1978.
In 2011 Queen re-issued “Jazz”. And that edition featured a rendition of “Bicycle Race”, though devoid of vocals.
Who wrote “Bicycle Race”?
As aforementioned Freddie Mercury wrote this song. And all of Queen produced it alongside Roy Thomas Baker, whom they worked with frequently.
How did this Queen classic perform on the charts?
“Bicycle Race” peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 11 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song also charted in seven other European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand.