Top Ten Songs About Cycling

Posted by Billyjam, March 1, 2017 05:17pm | Post a Comment

This is a list of the top ten songs about cycling: mostly ones on the joys of cycling as either a mode of transportation or a healthy pastime. It is not to be confused with a top ten list of songs geared to cycle to. Such a list would thematically be more abstract, to even include non-vocal/instrumental tracks, and with a focus on the BPM (beats per minute) to accompany a cardio cycling workout song playlist: IE a spinning music top ten list. In contrast this list could apply to any cyclist from the casual fixie (fixed wheel, one gear) bike rider who rides just to the corner store and back, all the way up to the 2020 mile long Tour de France participant. Like any top ten it's a subjective music list that not everyone will agree with.  Hence the comments section below and the honorary mention list included in this Amoeblog. In some cases the songs chosen were based on the appeal of their accompanying videos (or lack of a video)

Number one has to go to Kraftwerk's timeless 1983 single "Tour de France." It's a song that can be filed under rock, electronic, electro-pop, and hip-hop. Featured in the 1984 movie Breakin' the song is a staple of hip-hop: having been both sampled by hip-hop producers and utilized by a generation of breakers to do their b-boy moves to. "Tour de France" is a true celebration of cycling: recorded with electronics mixed with samples of various bicycle sounds by the German "krautrock" artists who reportedly were avid competitive cyclists. A single, released in numerous different mixes, and years later followed by a full length album of the same title Tour de France was, of course, so named after the famed annual three-week French bike race that dates back to 1903. Taking that same bicycle race title but flipping it on its ear with the song lyrics "Sharing my aggression is what I do, every day I'm riding the 'Tour de Fuck You'" is the Sons of Science's hilarious  "Motherfucking Bike" with an equally inspired accompanying video. Anyone who cycles round a city like San Francisco on the regular cannot but love this song (#2) and all its accurate observations.

"The Bicycle Song" by Rob Deez (#5) is a simple but heartfelt homage to the joys of riding a bike just to get around town: no tricks cos he "got no skills" as he unashamedly admits. Lovingly written and recorded, it is a stream of consciousness rock/rap about enjoying biking after the CHP gave Rob a DUI and took away his driver's license. That doesn't stop Rob from toking on some sticky or drinking 40's while riding his bike. As Rob notes in the song, even though he misses his automobile, he doesn't have to worry about gas prices! Even more passionate on the joys of cycling are the impossible to not like kids from Minneapolis who go by the name of Y.N.RichKids with their winning bike-riding anthem "My Bike" (#3). Similar kudos go to the older rapping cyclists from Oakland who, about a decade ago around the time of the Hyphy movement, made noise with their "Scraper Bike" song and video: The Trunk Boiz (#9).
Famed prolific producer/musician and friend of Amoeba Mark Ronson is responsible for the song used in a Transport For London video promoting cycling a few years back. Great video to accompany the "The Bike Song" (#7) found on Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.'s 2010 album Record Collection (also on LP/Vinyl), that features cameos from Kyle Falconer from Scottish band The View, and DC area rapper Spank Rock.

As evident from its video, The Flobots' "Handlebars" (#6) packs a strong political message as well as a bicycle themed one. The Denver CO alt hip-hoppers' track is found on both their 2005 EP Flobots Present...Platypus and on 2007's Fight with Tools. Also included in the top ten is the 1978 Queen hit single "Bicycle Race" (#4) from the late Freddie Mercury group's album Jazz (also found on Greatest Hits). The oldest bicycle song to be included on this list is the oft-covered classic "Daisy Bell (On A Bicycle Built For Two)." The Nat King Cole version (#5) of the song is the chosen version. The 1892 Harry Dacre penned song's sing-a-long chorus goes: "Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage. I can't afford the carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two." Covered by countless artists over the past 125 years, including Britpop band Blur in 1993, the song was made anew most recently for its use in the horror TV series "Scream"  Season 2 - ''The Lakewood Six.''

Less known in the US than in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada where the 1971 single by The Mixtures, "Pushbike Song" (#8), charted, the song was later covered by such artists as Ray Dorset's Mungo Jerry whose style it seems to share. In that same late 60's/early 70's UK pop rock style is "My White Bicycle" which is the 1967 single by Tomorrow that, a decade later, would be covered by Nazareth who reached wider audience with the song that is found on their Greatest Hits album. Both versions, not included in the top ten, get honorable mention. Other honorable mentions go to BJ Thomas / Burt Bacharach's "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" from the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (and soundtrack that includes instrumental version) in which Paul Newman's Butch Cassidy character famously cycles with his love interest Etta Place (played by Katharine Ross) on the handlebars of his bike.  More honorable mentions include the brilliant Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd "Bike" from the 1967 album The Piper At The Gates Of Down. Although the song is more about LSD than cycling. Meanwhile honorable mention "Silver Machine" by space-rockers Hawkwind (the late Lemmy Kilmister's pre-Motorhead band) is not about a space ship, as many believed the 1972 single to be, but a a silver bicycle. 

Other honorable mentions go to Boards of Canada for their "Happy Cycling" from the 1998 album Music Has the Right to Children (Warp release is also avail on LP/vinyl), the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Bicycle Song" which was a bonus track on the 2002 album ‘By The Way’ album (also on LP/vinyl), Shonen Knife's "Cycling Is Fun" from Yama-no Attchan (also on LP/vinyl), Ugly Kid Joe's "Bicycle Wheels," and Tom Waits' "Broken Bicycles" (later covered by Anne Sophie Von Otter feat. Elvis Costello) from the 1982 Francis Ford Coppola film One from The Heart soundtrack,(One from the Heart LP)   that co-featured Crystal Gayle.

1: Kraftwerk "Tour De France"

2: Sons of Science "Motherfucking Bike"

3 Y.N.RichKids "My Bike"

4: Queen "Bicycle Race"

5: Nat King Cole "Daisy Bell (On A Bicycle Built For Two)"

6: Rob Deez "The Bicycle Song"

7: The Flobots "Handlebars"

8: The Mixtures "Pushbike Song"

9: Trunk Boiz "Scraper Bike"
10Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. ‘The Bike Song (feat. Kyle Falconer & Spank Rock)"

Relevant Tags

The Bike Song (1), Kraftwerk (15), Top Ten Cycling Songs (1), Queen (20), Boards Of Canada (10), Cycle Songs (1), Tour De France (2)