Aim of this paper is to give an extensive treatment of bipartite mean field spin systems, ordered and disordered: at first, bipartite ferromagnets are investigated, achieving an explicit expression for the free energy trough a new minimax variational principle. Furthermore via the Hamilton-Jacobi technique the same free energy structure is obtained together with the existence of its thermodynamic limit and the minimax principle is connected to a standard max one. The same is investigated for bipartite spin-glasses: By the Borel-Cantelli lemma a control of the high temperature regime is obtained, while via the double stochastic stability technique we get also the explicit expression of the free energy at the replica symmetric level, uniquely defined by a minimax variational principle again. A general results that states that the free energies of these systems are convex linear combinations of their independent one party model counterparts is achieved too. For the sake of completeness we show further that at zero temperature the replica symmetric entropy becomes negative and, consequently, such a symmetry must be broken. The treatment of the fully broken replica symmetry case is deferred to a forthcoming paper. As a first step in this direction, we start deriving the linear and quadratic constraints to overlap fluctuations.