His Easy Rider was an icon and a statement about the stuck up prejudiced oldie world we were living in. I remember leaving the cinema feeling bereft. Of course he was more than that but that's what he'll be remembered for above all else. RIP.
I remember thinking the film was fantastic at the time, but when it was shown on the box about ten years ago I thought it was embarrassing tosh. It is on some channel or other again this week (Scheduled before Fonda's death) and I'll have another watch to see if I feel the same. Apparently Fonda's bike, Captain America was unrideable over 25mph because the frame flexed like a tuning fork and Jack Nicholson had to be either drunk or stoned before he'd get on the back.
I don't think it was the frame that flexed it was the ridiculously extended fork that made it unstable and Fonda as an experienced chopper rider could handle it. Hopper was not which is why his bike was not so radical.
Don't know if it's true but I read that Nicholson was trying to balance on the squirrely bike he squeezed Fonda so hard it broke one of his ribs.