Laboratory experiments of the direct shear test were performed on spherical particles of different materials and diameters. Results of the bulk friction vs. non-dimensional shear displacement are presented as a function of the non-dimensional particle diameter. Simulations of the direct shear test were performed using the Discrete Element Method (DEM). The simulation results show Considerable differences with the physical experiments. Particle level material properties, such as the coefficients of static friction, restitution and rolling friction need to be known a priori in order to guarantee that the simulation results are an accurate representation of the physical phenomenon. Furthermore, laboratory results show a clear size dependency on the results, with smaller particles having a higher bulk friction than larger ones. ?? 2009 American Institute of Physics.