Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls

“Bicycle Race” was released on their 1978 album Jazz and written by Freddie Mercury. It was released as a double A-side single together with the song “Fat Bottomed Girls”. The song is notable for its video featuring a bicycle race with nude women at Wimbledon Stadium, which was edited or even banned in several countries. The song was inspired by watching the 18th stage of the 1978 Tour de France passing Montreux, where the band were recording Jazz in the Mountain Studios. It starts with a chorus unaccompanied by instruments. The chorus is followed by two verses connected with a bridge, both followed by a chorus. Around the middle of the song is a solo played with numerous bicycle bells. The song has an unusual chord progression with numerous modulations, a change of metre (from 4/4 to 6/8) in the bridge, and multitracked vocal and guitar harmonies.

The lyrics are tipical for the time and contain social, political and pop-culture references, such as religion, Vietnam War, Watergate, drugs, fictional characters (Peter Pan, Frankenstein and Superman), and the films Jaws and Star Wars. The song also mentions actor John Wayne. The lyrics also mention the exclamatory interjection “Hot dog!” and the idiom “Cool it, man!” Brian May has said that the song was not an autobiographical portrait of Mercury and that Mercury did not particularly enjoy bicycling, also noting that despite the lyrics, Mercury was a Star Wars fan.

The song references the band’s song “Fat Bottomed Girls” with the lyric “fat bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today”. “Fat Bottomed Girls” reciprocates with the lyric: “Get on your bikes and ride!”

“Fat Bottomed Girls” was written by guitarist Brian May, the track featured on the album Jazz. The song is formed around an open bluesy, metallic guitar tuning, and opens with its chorus. It was one of the few Queen songs played in an alternative (drop D) guitar tuning. The song’s music video was filmed at the Dallas Convention Center in Texas in October 1978.

The single was mostly distributed in 1978, on 7-inch vinyl records on EMI record label. In Argentina, the titles were translated as “Carrera de Bicicletas” and “Chicas Gordas” respectively. The labels were changed to Pepita in Hungary and to Elektra in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Polish issue had the label of Tonpress and either “Spread Your Wings” on the B-side. Both 7-inch and 12-inch records were issued in the US; “Bicycle Race” also appeared in 1979, on the B-side of the single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. In nearly all countries, the covers featured a backside photo of a naked woman on a racing bike, with a red bikini painted over the original photo. A brassiere was added to the US covers. The single reached number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 24 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It was certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA , for over two million digital download equivalent units, on 20 March 2018.

Country Format Catalogue Comment
Argentina 7″ EMI 0068 Spanish titles, promo w/l
Argentina 7″ EMI 0068 Spanish titles
Australia 7″ PS Elektra E-45541 with bra
Belgium 7″ PS EMI 4C 006-61846
Belgium 7″ PS EMI 4C 006-61846 Test Press, nude sleeve, girl without pink pants (pink color missing in all the sleeve)
Belgium 7″ PS EMI 2870 promo, unique blue/white sleeve, contains UK vinyl
Brazil 7″ PS EMI 31C 006 61846
Canada 7″ Elektra E-45541 Promo w/l, no p/s
Canada 7″ Elektra E-45541
Chile 7″ EMI 1468
France 7″ PS EMI 2C 008-61846
France 7″ PS EMI 2C 008-61846 different sleeve
Germany 7″ PS EMI 1C 006-61846
Hungary 7″ PS Pepita SPSK 70379
Ireland 7″ EMI 2870
Italy 7″ PS EMI 3C 006-61846
Italy 7″ PS EMI 3C 006-61846 unique sleeve, pirate
Italy 7″ EMI 3C 000-79053 jukebox, Bicycle Race Only
Italy 7″ EMI 3C 000-79054 jukebox, Fat Bottomked Girls Only
Japan 7″ PS Elektra P-350E Promo w/l
Japan 7″ PS Elektra P-350E
Mexico 7″ PS EMI 33C 006 61846
Mexico 7″ EMI 8209 Fat Bottomed Girls Only
Netherlands 7″ PS EMI 5C 006 61846
New Zealand 7″ Elektra E-45541
Philippines 7″ EMI 73-X-175
Poland 7″ Tonpress S-197 Bicycle Race Only
Poland POSTCARD
Portugal 7″ PS EMI 8E 006 61846 F
Spain 7″ PS EMI 10C 006 061846 Spanish titles
Sweden 7″ PS EMI 7C 006 61846
United Kingdom 7″ EMI 2870 Demo
United Kingdom 7″ PS EMI 2870
United Kingdom 12″ EMI MUSIC Acetate, 1 track, long version (7’09 minutes), should be the same version that was released one year later on the 12″ colombian issue
United States 7″ ELE E45541 Promo
United States 7″ PS Elektra E-45541 with bra, there are at least three different labels
United States 7″ PS Specialty Records E45541-X-SP Test Press
United States 7″ Elektra E-45103 Spun Gold, Bicycle Race Only
United States 12″ Elektra AS-11401-X butterfly labels
Yugoslavia 7″ EMI SEMI 88991

UK: standard release. In many country there’s some difference here and there
PS. I’ll try to show you all! :) If something missing or wrong, please contact me at alessandro.carugini@libero.it

FRANCE: standard and censored sleeve
Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls FRANCE: standard and censored sleeve

ITALY: Pirate PS, sper sleeve Bicycle Race, sper sleeve Fat Bottomed Girls
ITALY: Pirate PS, sper sleeve Bicycle Race, sper sleeve Fat Bottomed Girls

BELGIUM: Promo sleeve
Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls BELGIUM: Promo sleeve

ARGENTINA: commercial release and promo, CHILE: promo, BRAZIL, MEXICO, PHILIPPINES
Bicycle Race / Fat Bottomed Girls ARGENTINA: commercial release and promo, CHILE: promo, BRAZIL, MEXICO, PHILIPPINES