June 12, 1817 was the first time a man took a two-wheeler and went on the road in the Mannheim region of what was then the Grand Duchy of Baden, now part of southwest Germany.
Baron Drais's "velocipede" (nicknamed the 'dandy horse') had no pedals or a chain and required the rider to propel his "Laufmaschine" (running machine) by pushing off the ground with his feet.
But the Baron's genius was that "he discovered balance on two wheels", said amateur historian Claude Reynaud, who runs a museum in southern France dedicated to the 200-year-old story of the bicycle
"Like all ingenious inventions, it seems obvious, but someone had to think it. He invented the two-wheeler!"
"At first, it didn't work, he couldn't sell it, people made fun of it."
But the idea had taken root and was soon being copied, particularly in France, although many draisines (as it was known there) were adorned with horses heads.
In 1866, Pierre Lallement attached pedals to the draisine and invented a pedal-powered velocipede.
The next stage in the development of the bicycle saw a huge front wheel attached with a small rear wheel, but it was a machine that was far from stable and resulted in some spectacular crashes.
It wasn't until 1885 that two similar-sized wheels were attached to the velocipede.
"After that it was just a case of technical improvements, but all the ideas already existed -- brake cables, pedals, chains," said Reynaud.