While we certainly don’t recommend listening to music while you’re cycling on the road, if your winter routine involves some time on the turbo-trainer, there’s nothing better than music to keep up the cadence and lessen the boredom. Or maybe the holidays just left you with less time for actual riding but you’re craving something that will remind you of how sweet it’s going to feel to get back out on the road? Either way, here are a few of our tops picks for songs that prove many of rock and roll’s top artists also loved their bikes.
Queen — ‘Bicycle Race’ (1978)
You can’t have a list of cycling tunes without including this classic from the legendary rock group Queen. Inspired by a stage of the Tour de France, this stunning homage to cycling even features a bike bell solo before Brian May starts shredding. Who knows what the pro peloton of the 1970s thought of Queen’s flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury but we’re definitely a fan of this groovy song. Also showing that cycling was and remains a relevant topic, the lyrics are topical for the time and contain social, political, and pop culture references, including religions, the Vietnam War, cocaine, Peter Pan, actor John Wayne, and the films Jaws and Star Wars.
Kraftwerk — ‘Tour de France’ (1983)
Another ode to the Grand Boucle, German techno pioneers Kraftwerk made their love for bikes public with the 1983 ‘Tour de France.’ It is notable for the use of sampled voices and mechanical sounds associated with cycling that were used to supplement a simple electro-percussion pattern, an innovative approach Kraftwerk had also used on earlier tracks. The video is also worth a watch as the 1983 release was accompanied by a video clip in which the band members are seen cycling merrily in Düsseldorf.
Beach Boys — It’s A Beautiful Day (1979)
The LA freeways jammed with bicycles instead of cars? You can’t say the Beach Boys suffered from a lack of imagination. Anyway, one can dream and although this song was never released on an original Beach Boys album, it was released on the soundtrack to the film Americathon and as a single in September 1979 with B-side, “Sumahama”. The song has also been released on the Ten Years of Harmony and Made in California Beach Boys compilation albums, which speaks to the fact that although this was never one of their big hits, the lyrics, melody, and harmony are all on point.
Mark Ronson — The Bike Song (2010)
In case you were starting to worry that there hadn’t been a song written about cycling for the last 30 years, here’s something a little more contemporary from singer/songwriter Mark Ronson. The video features some truly worthwhile footage of Ronson showing off his unique take on bike power and a 90s classic, the Raleigh Streetwolf. Proving that there’s an appetite for more musical cycling content, the song was also used for a video promoting Cycling on the Transport for London website. It features celebrities cycling around some of their favourite parts of London.
The Decemberists — The Apology Song (2003)
And finally, in the event that the holidays have you feeling sombre or you didn’t find what you were hoping for under the tree, we’ll finish off with something a little darker. This one’s not exactly a song about riding but a song about a bike that got stolen – a sad, sad day. To make matters worse, this one finishes off with an excruciatingly ironic epilogue, in which the singer Colin Meloy said that he eventually found the stolen bicycle and returned it to its owner, only to accidentally crush it later on while trying to help his friend move. Kind of makes you want to go give your bike a hug, doesn’t it?