At $12,000, the Brammo Enertia seems like a tough sell. It's a motorcycle that tops out at 55 miles per hour and runs out of fuel after 45 miles of travel. Vespa's entry-level scooter, by comparison, retails for about $3,300 and can go 230 miles on a single tank. But the Enertia has one big advantage: It runs on an electric battery. And battery power is hot right now. Brammo is one of more than a dozen electric-vehicle start-ups taking a crack at the future of transport.

Craig Bramscher founded and sold a dot-com, DreamMedia, in the 1990s before launching Brammo in 2001. He toyed with building an electric sports car before settling on his modest motorbike. Bramscher admits the Enertia isn't likely to appeal to your average biker; it's aimed instead at women and city dwellers.

Rather than sell through dealerships, which Bramscher says can be intimidating for nonriders, he struck a deal with Best Buy. The electronics retailer, which participated in a $10 million investment round in Brammo last year, will carry the Enertia in stores starting this summer. Best Buy's Geek Squad will handle maintenance. Take away the tires and brakes, and the bike "looks like a big server," says Bramscher. "This is consumer electronics that you ride."